The Obama Administration's decision earlier this month to bar offshore drilling in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) has drawn much reaction from mid-Atlantic coastal states.
One Illinois veteran leader says the impact of that decision also will be felt in the Land of Lincoln.
"Many people don't realize how much of an energy hub Illinois is for the rest of the country," said Keith Pekau, Captain, USAF (ret.), the volunteer chair of Illinois Vets4Energy. "We have more than 260,000 energy-related jobs in this state serving the many oil and gas pipelines and coal production in our state."
"Decisions like the one made by the Obama Administration on offshore drilling impacts those jobs, and certainly won't help create any new jobs here in a state that desperately needs them," added Pekau.
The Obama Administration’s decision impacts the area known as the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), located off the shores of mid-Atlantic states, from Virginia to Georgia.
Previous testing found the Atlantic OCS to hold as much as 4.7 billion barrels of oil and 37 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Some experts, however, believe those numbers of conservative and that modern testing would find significantly greater reserves.
The administration's decision was criticized by the energy industry.
“The decision appeases extremists who seek to stop oil and natural gas production which would increase the cost of energy for American consumers and close the door for years to creating new jobs, new investments and boosting energy security,” said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. “This is not how you harness America’s economic and diplomatic potential. While benefiting from energy policy choices made more than a decade ago, this inconsistent policy leads to unraveling the nation's ability to be a global energy leader and has left the future of American energy and national security vulnerable for the geopolitical challenges that lie ahead."
Pekau said the move also will negatively impact Illinois veterans.
"There are more than 700,000 veterans like me living here in the Land of Lincoln. Many of them served in unstable Middle Eastern countries where we're currently buying too much of our oil," said Pekau. "The Administration's anti-drilling move means we're going to continue to rely on those foreign regimes for our energy for years to come. That's a shame."