Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 22, 2012

Forum: Fair, balanced approach to energy

The security of this country's energy resources as well as the preservation of our natural resources is paramount to our nation's future. The balance between energy development and protecting the environment should be occurring in a mutually beneficial form, with a full understanding of the regional and national issues associated with energy production and exploration, economic growth and natural resource preservation.

Congress recently passed HR 3408, a bill proposed by the house majority that would triple U.S. offshore production by 2027, build the Keystone XL pipeline and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other environmentally sensitive (Great Lakes) areas to drilling.

The house minority, in response to this bill, attempted to ban drilling in the Great Lakes and the Everglades, hold applicants for oil and gas exploration responsible for the economic harm associated with spills and require that oil shipped by the Keystone pipeline be sold in the United States only. All three of these bills were blocked by the majority.

Findings from the 2007 U.S. Department of Energy Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) report that "Over two-thirds of all untapped oil in the offshore continental shelf (OCS) is already fully available, but not being developed." The Department of Interior reported in March 2011 that "fully 70 percent of existing offshore leased acres are sitting inactive, neither being explored nor developed."

It should be noted that oil companies are valued in part by acres controlled for oil production and that locking up additional leases, in a favorable political environment, is beneficial to these companies.

The opening for development of more environmentally sensitive areas, as proposed in HR 3408 seems unnecessary, especially without environmental and economic accountability.

As the cost of gasoline continues to rise, it is hard for me to understand the resistance to using the Keystone pipeline oil for sale in this country only.

The U.S. controls only 2 percent of the known petroleum reserves (2007 DOE AEO report) and as the price of gasoline is driven completely by the price per barrel for crude oil, it seem this county would want to make every effort to keep oil flowing through our borders for domestic use only.

Most important to this state are the Great Lakes, which represent a beautiful natural resource and economic engine for this region.

Subjecting the Great Lakes to development without accountability is setting this resource up for a future environmental and economic concern.

What I find difficult to understand is the resistance to placing commercial wind towers in the Great Lakes (proposed by a local representative in the Michigan Legislature), but a willingness to allow oil and gas exploration.

The future of this country's energy development and natural resource protection is complex and will involve compromise by all too solve.

It seems like it is time for a fair and balanced approach to solving these critical issues.

About the author: Ed Bailey is the convener for the Grand Vision Energy Network and has been involved in energy related issues for more than 10 years.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by e-mailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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