Domestic Energy Production Fight Continues

October First of this year was hailed as Energy Independence Day. The seminal event was the Congress allowing the various drilling bans that have led to huge amounts of American wealth being sent overseas and grotesquely high gas prices to lapse. Even Nancy Pelosi recognizes political suicide when she is staring it in the face. So the bans dropped away and now we can “drill, baby, drill” and become energy independent and an economic powerhouse once more, right?

Not quite. Arrayed against Americans seeking prosperity and security are a powerful consortium of people determined to keep American oil and natural gas as far underground as possible: Radical Environmentalists and their lawyers.

We live in a society with free and open access to the judiciary, ironically its best and worst feature, even for radical environmentalists determined to force their ideas down the throats of average Americans whether they like it or not. The tactic makes perfect sense: Lose in the Congress, try to win through the courts and while the case is being adjudicated, prevent anything from happening.

Pending Lawsuits

After Congressional Democrats put forth their Energy bills, which grudgingly accepted limited drilling in certain areas, Congressman John Shadegg (3-AZ) called for an end of frivolous environmental lawsuits. The reason for that call is that these lawsuits will delay, or possibly scuttle, all attempts at American energy independence. According to Shadagg:

The bills are meaningless—a complete hoax to use Nancy Pelosi's term. Radical environmentalists will sue and stop everything. That's exactly what they've done with 100% of all leases in the outer continental shelf, including Alaska. Not 98%, not 99%, but 100%. And they've done the same for leases in the Intermountain West.

Here are the cases that Shadegg is concerned about:

Radical environmentalists challenged every lease in the Chukchi Sea:

  • The Administration issued 487 leases in the Chukchi Sea Sale 193 in February, 2008.

  • The Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and other radical environmental organizations, in January, 2008, filed a preemptive suit challenging all 487 leases under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.

  • Status: Currently pending.

Radical environmentalists challenged the entire 2007-2012 5-year national OCS leasing program:

  • The Administration, in July, 2007, proposed a national schedule to issue oil leases over a 5-year period (2007-2012) in the Outer Continental Shelf, including Alaska.

  • The Center for Biological Diversity and other radical environmental organizations immediately filed suit challenging all existing leases and all future leases under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and various other laws.

  • Status: Currently pending

Radical environmentalists challenged exploration activities of every lease in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas:

  • There are 748 leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

  • The Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other radical environmental organizations, in May, 2008, sued, challenging all seismic activity at all 748 leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Marine Mammals Protection Act.

  • Status: Currently pending.

Radical environmentalists block proposed drilling plans:

  • On February 15, 2007, the Minerals Management Service approved the proposed exploration plan for 12 leases in the Beaufort Sea.

  • The Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and other radical environmental organizations sued in April, 2007, and obtained a court order halting drilling on all 12 leases. That order has already stopped activity for two years.

  • Status: Currently pending.

Radical environmentalists sue under FOIA seeking evidence for use in future litigation to block all leases:

  • The Administration issued 487 leases in the Chukchi Sea Sale 193 in February, 2008.

  • The Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, in January, 2008, sued under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking documents in their efforts to stop all oil exploration and production.

  • Status: Currently pending.

Radical environmentalists protest every lease in the BLM New Mexico State Office Lease Sale:

  • On July 16, 2008, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) New Mexico State Office auctioned 78 leases in New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

  • The Western Environmental Law Center and the Wild Earth Guardians, preemptively, on July 1, 2008, administratively challenged all 78 leases under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

  • Status: Currently pending.

Radical environmentalists block a majority of oil and gas leases in the Rocky Mountain States:

  • In 2007, approximately 50% of the oil and gas leases in the Rocky Mountain States were administratively challenged.

  • In Utah alone, oil and gas development on millions of acres is being held up by environmental groups.

The Bottom Line

Call me an alarmist, but it seems to me that the “Drill, Baby, Drill” movement still has some work to do, and if you want the prosperity that comes from low energy prices, you have some work to do as well. Support Rep. Shadegg and Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) in their efforts to stop this country's radical environmental groups from clogging the courts with frivolous lawsuits aimed at keeping America dependent on foreign oil by getting a judge to do what the Congress of the United States could not: Ban drilling.