Oil industry pushing for changes to administration's five-year drilling plan

The administration announced last month that its 2012-2017 drilling program would not include the sale of oil-and-gas leases off the Atlantic Coast or more widely in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The decision, prompted by the Gulf oil spill, was a reversal of a the administration’s previous plans to significantly expand offshore drilling.

“Closing the eastern Gulf and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to offshore drilling and exploration — and delaying development in Alaska — sends job creation elsewhere ... and it closes the door on economic growth,” Gerard said at the event Tuesday.

In remarks to reporters following the event, Gerard said API hopes to work with the Obama administration to come to a compromise on future drilling “that allows us to develop our resources.” He added that he hopes Congress will increase oversight of the administration’s offshore drilling policies.

If the conversations don’t change the administration’s position, Gerard said that changing the five-year drilling plan through legislation is “clearly an option.”

“I know there are some who are already talking about that,” Gerard said, though he did not give specifics.

Gerard also called on Congress to reject attempts to impose new taxes and fees on the industry, as some lawmakers have called for. API pointed to a study by the energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie that says new taxes and fees on the industry would eventually decrease revenue to the government because it will hurt the oil industry.

Asked about the chances that the new Congress will address climate change, Gerard said the chances are slim. Instead, he called on Congress to focus on job creation, oversight of the Obama administration’s agenda and stopping he Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Gerard did not offer specifics about the ways in which Congress should block EPA’s climate authority. “We will support the means necessary to make sure that Congress has the right to make that decision,” he said.