Governors Confer on Coastal Exploration

Offshore Technology Conference

Several governors and elected officials will be on hand to discuss the future of coastal energy exploration during a panel discussion at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston next month.

“This is about the outer continental shelf and offshore exploration, which is a vital part of the ‘energy revolution’ in this country,” said David Holt of Consumer Energy Alliance, co-chair of the OTC policy panel.

Speakers will include North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, chairman of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition.

Other members, their representatives and other elected officials are expected to participate, Holt said.

“This year, I’m especially excited to hear their assessment of the interaction between state and federal government and the states’ role in finding balance between reward and risk,” said session co-chair Charles Knobloch, technology law partner at Arnold, Knobloch & Saunders in Houston.

Formation of the Governors’ Coalition was announced at the 2011 OTC. The group has expanded to include nine coastal state governors who support policies that encourage an expansion of American energy, particularly offshore energy resources.

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Several governors and elected officials will be on hand to discuss the future of coastal energy exploration during a panel discussion at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston next month.

“This is about the outer continental shelf and offshore exploration, which is a vital part of the ‘energy revolution’ in this country,” said David Holt of Consumer Energy Alliance, co-chair of the OTC policy panel.

Speakers will include North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, chairman of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition.

Other members, their representatives and other elected officials are expected to participate, Holt said.

“This year, I’m especially excited to hear their assessment of the interaction between state and federal government and the states’ role in finding balance between reward and risk,” said session co-chair Charles Knobloch, technology law partner at Arnold, Knobloch & Saunders in Houston.

Formation of the Governors’ Coalition was announced at the 2011 OTC. The group has expanded to include nine coastal state governors who support policies that encourage an expansion of American energy, particularly offshore energy resources.

“The coalition was formed to improve coordination between coastal state governors and the federal government,” Holt said.

He said the group has made some progress and he feels conditions are “continuing to improve.”

They are expected to discuss how states need to “better understand what resources are available and what they can mean for state revenues. They also want to continue to be good stewards for wind, tidal and oil and gas resources,” he said.

Holt said the national security aspects of offshore exploration will be among likely topics of discussion.

“The U.S. is now the No. 1 oil producer in the world,” he said. Energy independence encourages “less involvement in foreign wars ... grows jobs in all sectors ... and low energy prices spur economic growth,” he added.

He said the coalition has encouraged states to be aware of and be involved in the Interior Department’s and Bureau of Ocean Management’s Outer Continental Shelf five-year development plan.

The plan, now in the draft proposal stage, would be in effect for the years 2017-22.

Possible revisions to the plan are examined about every three years, with a multilevel public comment process that takes about two years, he said.

“Each step now has a winnowing effect – they can’t add areas, but they can maintain or take off areas,” Holt said.

The Governors’ Coalition “would appreciate as expansive a plan as possible,” Holt said.

The current “Draft Proposed Program” for oil and gas leasing includes 14 potential lease sales in eight planning areas – 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico, three off the coast of Alaska, and one in a portion of the Mid- and South Atlantic.

On the Coalition website, McCrory called the plan a “step forward,” but expressed concern over the fact that the 50-mile coastal buffer in the Mid- and South Atlantic lease sale at this stage unnecessarily limits the opportunity for further examination of the resource potential and identification of environmentally sensitive areas.

The Coalition has advocated expanding revenue sharing to all coastal states with oil and gas production off their shores to compensate local communities for additional infrastructure, environmental protection and other coastal management needs generated by the new economic activity. In 2014, the federal government collected more than $7.3 billion in tax receipts from offshore royalties, rents and bonuses, according to the Coalition.

The newest members of the Governors’ Coalition are Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

Holt said Texas Gov. Greg Abott also renewed that state’s role with the group.

Other members of the coalition include Govs. Robert Bentley of Alabama, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who served as the group’s founding chairman.

Holt has served as president of Consumer Energy Alliance since 2006. CEA has corporate and individuals members in regional and state chapters in 20 states. The group’s stated purpose is “to help shape a broad consensus in support of sensible, pro-economic growth energy policies utilizing an ‘all of the above’ approach.”

Knobloch also is Program Committee vice chair for the 2016 Offshore Technology Conference and Oversight Committee member for Offshore Technology Conference Asia 2016. He also is past chair (2013-15) of the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists.