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Reflections of Responsibility

Reflections on Responsibility

Our entire nation has been impacted by the disastrous Gulf oil spill. Some of us in the oil and natural gas industry were quick to defend BP. Others were quick to point out “as land-based producers, we simply don’t take those kinds of risk or have problems we can’t contain.” Many openly chastised BP for its numerous shortcuts and faults before, during, and after this catastrophic event. Ultimately, all of us are deeply concerned about the long-term environmental effects this monumental event will have on the Gulf. We are also concerned about the future of domestic oil and natural gas exploration and production in the United States. President Obama was quick to use the disaster as an opportunity to call for a “significant” tax increase on all American oil and natural gas production. Members of Congress immediately proposed to raise the oil-spill cleanup assessment from 8 cents a barrel to as high as 44 cents on all U.S. production. While this seems sensible in theory, I still struggle with why land-based operations are asked to pay for and take responsibility for something that has occurred off-shore? Even more problematic are the new layers of costly environmental regulations proposed by emboldened Congressional representatives, whose goal is to end the use of all fossil fuels. These regulations don’t offer additional protection, but merely raise the cost of energy across the board – ultimately impacting the American consumer. In the face of these unbelievable actions, raw emotions, and mounting concerns, perhaps those of us engaged in exploration and production of America’s oil and natural gas should spend at least a moment in reflection. I experienced my “moment” the other day while staring out the airplane window at the earth 20,000 feet below. First, I thought of the 11 men who lost their lives. They were simply doing their jobs, providing for their families, and performing the dangerous and difficult work that had been asked of them. Regardless of our feelings for BP, those men were industry brothers; we mourn their loss. Thoughts then drift to what we do as land-based producers and the responsibility that accompanies our chosen vocation. We penetrate the earth to harvest the oil and natural gas that has fueled the industrialization of our world, and we must remember that our actions come with tremendous responsibility. While we oppose unnecessary laws and regulations, we must be vigilant in ensuring that we accept -- and even embrace -- scientifically based procedures that promote safety and enhance the protection of our environment. We must resist a “siege mentality” that occurs in the face of what has been perceived as an unwarranted assault. Even if unwarranted, we must be thoughtful and open-minded in working with policy makers to identify solutions and address our nation’s concerns. The BP spill has been a wakeup call for all involved in the oil and natural gas industry. We must pay attention. We must be as diligent in fulfilling our responsibility to protect the earth as we are in harvesting the oil and gas that America so desperately needs. This is not just our responsibility; it is our moral obligation. --

Mike Cantrell, President of Domestic Energy Producers Alliance (DEPA), www.depausa.org

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