Southern lawmakers, energy companies starting the offshore-drilling slow clap

Over the past few years, various groups of bipartisan lawmakers have tried and tried again to somehow break through the Obama administration’s bureaucratic barrier of determinedly stingy offshore-drilling allowances and convince them to permit energy companies to start up exploration and drilling again on both the east and west coasts, but to no avail. In the five-year drilling plan the administration rubber-stamped in 2012, they allowed only for limited offshore lease sales for new areas in the Gulf Coast region and perhaps off of the Alaskan coast in later years, pending environmental review.

The paltriness of their plan was not a welcome development for energy advocates, and with several states currently raking in the chips with the shale revolution in the heartland, mid-Atlantic and southern lawmakers and industries might are starting to press the issue again in earnest. So reports the AP:

Southern politicians and energy industry groups are increasing the push to allow drilling off the U.S. Atlantic Coast for oil and gas deposits that could be puny or mean big cash to a part of the country where it’s now largely absent.

Although drilling, refineries and the jobs that could accompany them are at least a decade away, the Obama Administration is weighing a decision expected to be announced in the next three months on whether to take an important early step: to allow seismic testing of the sea bottom. The tests could firm up estimates of how much hydrocarbon deposits may be out there.

Also next year, the Obama administration is expected to ramp up work preparing the country’s 2017-2022 ocean energy exploration plan. Companies that specialize in deep-water drilling want the roadmap to include selling leases that allow companies to explore, saying thousands of new jobs, economic growth and reduced foreign imports would follow.

The administration signaled last summer they that it would certainly not be amenable to any such adjustments to their deliberately lame plan, no matter how fantastically wealth- and job-creating those adjustments might be. The Obama administration more or less lucked out with the shale oil-and-gas boom being driven by the private sector on private and state lands and its subsequent helpfulness to our otherwise battered economy, and yet they seem perfectly content to continue to spend our money and resources on financially unproven but politically profitable pet projects while simultaneously stalling on allowing more industries that can create economic and energy prosperity to get in on the action. For example:

North Carolina juts east almost to the Gulfstream and near likely drilling grounds, has a long coastline and two ports, so it should expect the greatest job creation, followed by South Carolina, the groups said. The groups see the offshore industry creating about 20,000 jobs in North Carolina in 15 years if exploration is allowed starting in 2017, with thousands more jobs resulting as those paychecks circulate through the economy.