Oil Industry Says Obama’s Regulatory Decisions Moving in ‘Wrong Direction’

By Jon Street | September 26, 2012 | 10:06 AM EDT

President Barack Obama speaks during his visit to oil and gas production fields located on federal lands outside of Maljamar, N.M., Wednesday, March, 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration’s pledge to reduce regulatory burdens on American businesses has not helped us, the oil industry says.

In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, officials with the American Petroleum Institute said the administration’s regulatory policies continue to hamper energy production and job creation, leaving the nation with a less secure energy future.

“It’s been just over a year and a half since the president issued Executive Order 13563 on improving regulation, calling on agencies to promote predictability and reduce uncertainty,” API Group Director of Upstream Erik Milito said.

“Unfortunately, judging from what the administration has subsequently done, there appears to be little interest in encouraging greater investment in U.S. oil and gas projects. “We’ve seen numerous examples of regulatory decisions simply move in the wrong direction and contribute to uncertainty,” Milito added.

Some of those regulatory decisions include new EPA rules, issued in April, that set the first federal air standards on hydraulically fractured natural gas wells. The rules require the oil industry to capture natural gas that escapes into the air. The API says the new rules will discourage further natural gas development.

The oil industry also objects to the administration’s refusal to allow new offshore oil drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and in nearly all of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

And API also points to the administration’s withdrawal or delay of leases for federal onshore lands; and its failure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Smart and cost-effective regulatory programs can help drive the country forward by boosting jobs, generating much-needed revenue, and enhancing energy security,” Milito said. “This is the approach we need for our onshore and offshore federal leasing programs.”

The oil industry is a global industry, said Howard Feldman, API director of scientific and regulatory affairs. “Domestic refineries compete in a global marketplace. Now is not the time to impose still more requirements unless the need is indisputable, yet that exactly is what the administration seems bent on doing.

“A slew of new rules, applicable only to U.S. refineries but not the counterparts overseas, threaten to put some U.S. refineries out of business, diminish U.S. fuel manufacturing capacity, and increase our reliance on imported fuels.”

CNSNews.com asked API, “What can [the U.S.] do to catch up with other countries in the world and be more competitive in the global market?”

Milito called for a “comprehensive energy policy that encourages U.S. leadership around the globe.”

He said “predictable leasing” would be helpful, so companies can continue to get new leases as older ones expire.

Milito said unpredictable and inefficient permitting makes investment more difficult: “You know the average time it takes to get a permit on B[ureau of] L[and] M[anagement] lands has been around 200 days. In some states it’s around 20 days. We should be pushing for a much quicker turnaround because those are uncertainties and delays that make it difficult to invest.”

He also called for “certainty in the regulatory process.”