Interior Secretary Jewell Rains on Anti-Drilling Activists’ Parade

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Activists pose with anti-drilling posters in front of the White House

A handful of anti-drilling activists, spearheaded by, gathered in front of the White House this morning to tell President Obama to “keep it [oil and gas] in the ground” in an effort to stop new leases on federal lands.  EID was on hand to hear one activist tell the sparse gathering:

“We’re going to resist every fossil fuel project—shut them down. That’s what reality demands.”

But then reality hit.  As Politico Pro succinctly put it, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell “delivered a tough message to a coalition of environmentalists.” At a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor today, Secretary Jewell pointed out,

“We are a nation that continues to be dependent on fossil fuels… It oversimplifies a very complex situation to suggest that one could simply cut off leasing or drilling on public lands and solve the issue of climate change.  You can’t just cut it off over night and expect to have an economy that is in fact the leader of the world.”

See added, “Most of you burned fossil fuels one way or another to get here.”

This certainly isn’t the first time Obama administration officials have rebuked activists calling for a ban on all oil and gas development. Last year, former White House adviser John Podesta called them “completely impractical”:

“If you oppose all fossil fuels and you want to turn that switch off tomorrow, that is a completely impractical way of moving toward a clean-energy future.”

“With all due respect to my friends in the environmental community, if they expect us to turn off the lights and go home, that’s sort of an impractical suggestion.”

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Small group of activists gather outside the White House

The United States will certainly continue to need fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, and the benefits of developing these resources are great.  The New York Times reported in April on the effect of domestic oil and gas production on gas prices, pointing out “shale drilling not only transformed the United States from dependent consumer to a robust producer, but is also transforming the price dynamics of the global market.”

The New York Times elaborated that domestic shale gas has been the key to changing the balance of world power to our favor:

“The center of the oil world has spun from the sands of Saudi Arabia to the shale oil fields of Texas and North Dakota, a giant new oil patch some wildcatters have begun to call ‘Cowboyistan.’”

The truth is, stunts like these are often just dusted off repeats of the same activist spectacle that deserve the rebuke of Secretary Jewell and other administration officials. Meanwhile, Americans are enjoying lower energy prices and greater energy security, among other economic and environmental benefits, and we have U.S. oil and gas exploration and production to thank for it.


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