|Outer Continental Shelf Testimony April 14, 2009
Carl Portman, RDC
Good afternoon. My name is Carl Portman, Deputy Director of the Resource Development Council (RDC).
RDC is a statewide membership-funded organization founded in 1975. Our membership is comprised of individuals and companies from Alaska’s oil and gas, mining, timber, tourism, and fisheries industries, as well as Alaska Native corporations, local communities, organized labor, and industry support firms. RDC’s purpose is to link these diverse interests together to encourage a strong, diversified private sector in Alaska and expand the state’s economic base through the responsible development of our natural resources.
RDC and many Alaskans share President Obama’s view that America needs to conserve more and put new emphasis on renewable and alternative energy. By doing so, we can ultimately break our reliance on foreign oil.
Yet while we conserve more and move toward renewable energy, we still need to pursue new oil and gas production, given the fact it will take decades before renewables becomes a dominant energy source. Even with the Obama administration’s goal to decrease our dependence on oil, fossil fuels will still account for two-thirds of our energy consumption in 2025.
Where will our oil come from to meet demand? The OCS is the most logical choice, given its immense potential. If not the OCS and the North Slope, then where? For every barrel of oil we refuse to develop domestically, our nation will have little choice but to import another from overseas where weaker environmental regulations and emission standards often apply.
I would like to express disappointment and concern regarding a letter from 67 members of Congress to President Obama urging him to develop a so-called Arctic conservation and energy plan. The recommendations set forth in the letter would suspend virtually all new oil and gas exploration both onshore and offshore in Alaska’s Arctic.
The letter and its recommendations were advanced under the false premise that industrial activity in the region is “ill-planned” and is not based on sound science. We strongly disagree. In our view, the recommendations are an excuse to prevent new exploration and development until sometime in the distance future, if ever.
Energy development in the arctic is subject to in-depth analysis by federal law, a stringent permitting process and oversight by state and federal agencies. In every instance, development is preceded by extensive studies. The North Slope and the offshore is now perhaps the most studied energy basin in America.
RDC supports offshore exploration because it is confident operations can occur safely. Offshore development has an outstanding record in Alaska and elsewhere. We believe industry and government working together has the ability to protect subsistence resources. Advances is technology have dramatically reduced industry’s footprint, giving us an additional measure of confidence.
Any energy plan for the nation should include Alaska’s OCS, given its potential for immense recoverable reserves and enormous economic benefits to the state and nation.
RDC supports the Draft Proposed Five-Year Program 2010-2015 and encourage the Minerals Management Service to provide for a seamless transition to new oil and gas leasing programs in the future that will expand access to the nation’s OCS energy resources.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on a comprehensive offshore energy development plan.