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SUMMARY

More domestic production means less dependence on higher priced sources, consumer advocate says.

By Maureen McCall

American oil and gas production needs to be facilitated to meet domestic demand in an environmentally responsible manner, Michael Zehr, US federal affairs advisor with Consumer Energy Alliance said January 19.

Zehr spoke in advance of a January 20 hearing before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources examining what impacts the proposed suspension of oil and gas leasing in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico might have on the US achieving its climate targets.

“Increasingly efficient and continually cleaner development of oil and gas in the US is essential to meeting our global energy needs and ensuring we achieve our net zero goals without causing severe economic strains that would turn the public against these ambitions,” Zehr said.

At issue are international and OPEC+ efforts to limit supply, creating supply/demand imbalances and high prices that hurt families financially. In addition, regulatory and legislative moves – including suspending leasing in federal waters – are making US production more expensive, which results in greater reliance on more expensive and less environmentally responsible foreign oil supply.

“These actions offer few if any environmental benefits – especially when considering that taking American production offline means demand will be met by increased output from more carbon-intensive producers like OPEC, Russia, and Saudi Arabia,” Zehr added. “High prices caused US coal-fired generation to rise 17%, the first increase in seven years and an unfortunate 2021 report card for a nation that has led the world in absolute emissions reductions for two decades.”

Advancing energy policies to incentivise and expedite deployment of renewables; carbon capture, usage and storage; renewable natural gas, advanced nuclear, hydropower and broader international consumption of US LNG to displace coal are all preferable approaches to penalising US families through higher gas and energy bills. Benefits to families, consumers and small businesses created by more affordable US production instead of higher-cost energy is seen as a better way to achieve net zero goals.

“Increasingly efficient and continually cleaner development of oil and gas in the US is essential to meeting our global energy needs and ensuring we achieve our net zero goals without causing severe economic strains that would turn the public against these ambitions,” Zehr said.