National parks and offshore oil

National parks and offshore oil

In June of 2017, then Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke told the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that maintenance and repair revenues for our national parks was woefully inadequate.

Zinke blamed a significant drop in federal royalty revenue from offshore oil drilling as the reason.  These revenues were down $11.5 billion from 2008 levels and represented 73 percent of the total gap in national park maintenance and repair according to Zinke.

So, the U.S. needed to expand offshore oil drilling to bring in more federal royalties.

Zinke’s pitch was essentially that we needed to drill more offshore oil wells because it would be good for our national parks.

How’s that for putting lipstick on President Trump’s energy dominance pig?

This desperate need for more federal money from offshore drilling made a appearance again one year later in a Republican proposal in the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources.

This proposal would have allowed states to opt out of offshore drilling by paying “a lost production fee” to the federal government for depriving American taxpayers the revenue from oil drilling leases.

The inconsistency with letting states pay a ransom to avoid Trump’s energy dominance agenda was pointed out by many and the idea died.

Now, the Trump administration wants to use reduced royalty payments to the federal government to induce more offshore drilling in shallow Gulf waters, areas that the oil companies are all but abandoning because oil deposits close to the coast are so depleted.

For this presidency it’s always about the money.  Cut the costs of drilling in shallow waters along the Gulf and the oil companies will rush in.

Of course, federal oil royalties won’t benefit much.

But that’s not what expanding offshore drilling was all about in the first place, regardless of former Secretary Zinke’s national park crocodile tears.