The report highlights a number of positive trends supporting future U.S. oil production growth, both onshore and offshore. However, the report also details a series of existing and emerging regulatory barriers facing the domestic industry. Among other things, the report finds that policymakers could do more to promote domestic oil production while safeguarding the environment, specifically through a series of pilot programs designed to leverage technology to minimize the industry's development footprint in frontier areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and the U.S. Arctic. The report argues that the current regulatory uncertainty surrounding hydraulic fracturing poses an emerging risk to production of both shale gas and shale liquids, and it calls on industry as well as state and federal regulators to provide a more comprehensive framework for development.
Top among the reasons to boost domestic oil production are reasons of economic and national security. According to the report, "From a national security perspective, increased self-reliance would help minimize the exposure of the United States to a crippling disruption in oil supplies brought about by turbulence in the Middle East or any other oil-supplying region. With the U.S. trade deficit in crude oil and petroleum products on pace to surpass $300 billion in 2011, producing more domestic oil would also minimize the transfer of U.S. wealth abroad."
General James Conway, former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and member of SAFE's Energy Security Leadership Council said, "Without a question, it is in the United States' economic and national security interests to develop more of our own energy resources. For decades, our nation's energy policy has not been decided by Americans, but largely by state-owned oil exporting nations. Many of these countries are unstable, do not share our values, and in some cases, are outwardly hostile to the United States. It is time our leaders work in the short-term to develop more of our own oil resources as part of a comprehensive energy security strategy."
- Initiate a pilot program in cooperation with the State of Alaska to demonstrate extended reach drilling in the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
- Implement comprehensive reform of the U.S. offshore regulatory approach, shifting from a rule-based to a goal-based approach.
- Increase funding for BOEMRE to attract highly trained engineers and enable BOEMRE to engage with operators on equal footing.
- Use the new regulatory approach to open frontier areas and use the experience of frontier areas to refine the new regulatory approach.
- Implement distance-from-shore provisions designed to minimize the footprint of offshore oil and gas development in all frontier areas.
- Initiate an "inventory-to-lease" program in frontier areas of the Outer Continental Shelf, subject to goal-based regulation.
- Implement a system of progressive royalties for new OCS leases.
- Create loan guarantees for the construction of CO2 pipelines from major economic and industrial centers to regions populated with oil and gas fields for use in EOR projects.
- Establish a comprehensive approach to ensure regulatory stability for unconventional oil and gas production while also giving operators the certainty to move forward.