SAFE Responds to DOI Announcement

In anticipation of the today’s approval of the Willow Project, the Interior Department announced on Sunday that it would expand existing bans on new oil and gas leasing in Arctic waters and prevent new drilling across much of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Admiral Dennis Blair, Chairman of SAFE and member of the SAFE Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC) issued the following statement:

The ESLC was originally founded to reduce U.S. dependence on oil for economic and national security reasons.  To achieve this mission we focused on domestic production with improved environmental standards, strengthened fuel efficiency, and the diversification of fuels for the transportation sector, principally through electrification.  In so doing we safeguard American national security and make a major contribution to the world’s environmental security.

However, the path to this objective requires time, persistence and flexibility.  There will be a transition period from today’s 90% gas and oil-burning vehicle fleet to an alternative powered by renewable sources.  During this transition period there will be geopolitical surprises, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or China’s brokering of Saudi-Iranian resumed diplomatic relations.  There will be technological surprises, such as the development of new battery technologies, small modular nuclear reactors, autonomous vehicles, and CO2 capture and storage.  The United States must have the flexibility to manage the transition, keeping gas prices affordable to consumers and businesses, having the energy to reindustrialize America producing clean technology domestically, and remaining a major producer of oil and gas, observing the strictest environmental standards for extraction, transportation and storage.

We cannot predict the future in an unstable world.  This is why we must accelerate our transition to a low carbon future that reduces our dependence on global energy markets.  At the same time, we need to ensure that our economy has adequate supplies of energy today and throughout the transition.

Just a year ago, Europe experienced an unforeseen energy crisis caused by an overdependence on Russian oil and gas.  Taking significant U.S. resources off the table in a world that still consumes almost 100 million barrels of oil and about 400 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day is misguided.  The better course of action would be evaluation of individual projects, and the development of different areas, on a case-by-case basis, taking into account market, environmental, and geopolitical conditions.  One way or another, over the course of this transition we still will need to get petroleum to power our vehicles and fuel to generate power to keep the lights on and re-shore manufacturing.  We must find a way to chart a course through this transition to a low carbon economy that protects consumers, our security, and our economy.  Failure to plan will leave us vulnerable to countries that share neither our interests nor our values, and risks undermining public support for the clean energy economy.

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