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Regulatory: Considering energy regulations—Oil

3 aspects of federal oil regulation may change the shape of the country’s energy sector, and its economy, for decades to come

Federal regulation of oil as an energy source currently has three principal aspects: regulation of drilling, especially off-shore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS); review of a proposed pipeline to bring oil from Canadian tar sands to U.S. refineries; and regulation of consumption of motor vehicles to limit tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases. The policies emerging from these stovepipes are only loosely coordinated. The outcomes depend upon the unique politics of each policy area, which factor in the public’s strong aversion to high gasoline prices.

Offshore drilling. New technologies and techniques developed since the late 1990s have greatly increased the ability to recover oil from deep waters (greater than 600 feet). Today, 30 percent of domestic U.S. oil production occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, and off-shore drilling enjoys popular support in all Gulf states except Florida. However, 85 percent of the OCS (especially off the East Coast and California) is closed to drilling.

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John Cooney

John F. Cooney is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Venable.

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