New Year’s brings a time for all of us to review what we’ve accomplished over the past 12 months and chart a course for the future. It may sound cliché, but with such an eventful year behind us, and so many momentous challenges ahead, those of us here at Consumer Energy Alliance couldn’t resist the urge to compile our own Best of 2009 list. What follows are some of the milestone moments of the past year, in which our strong network of supporters significantly advanced our goal of making our country more energy secure and economically sustainable.

  • New respect for Offshore Drilling. Yes, many key offshore sites remain off limits to exploration and production but 2009 was a year that policymakers from California to Florida revisited longstanding bans on offshore drilling. They recognized the advances in technology that are making it possible to conduct major projects with minimal footprint and conducted level-headed debates about reversing longstanding bans. Stay tuned – and stay engaged — for more in 2010.
  • The sun rises over the Gulf of Mexico. From the appeals court ruling over the summer allowing drilling to go forward in a vast swath of the Gulf, to new data showing strong yields from some of the older properties in the Gulf, to BP’s massive discovery in that same region, you could say that everything old became new again in the Gulf.
  • Silent majority finds its voice. It’s not easy competing against protesters who play fast and loose with the facts and even resort to donning furry animal costumes to get attention. Nonetheless, when the Interior Department solicited feedback on some contested offshore drilling sites, the supporters of responsible drilling significantly outnumbered those who cried “not in my backyard.” This letter writing campaign to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was a major CEA initiative throughout much of the year, and turned out to be a major success. Thank you!
  • Alaska’s oil industry gets some needed relief. Speaking of Ken Salazar, the Interior Department’s recent decision allowing Shell Oil to drill three exploratory wells in the contested Chukchi Sea was a significant milestone in efforts to tap the state’s vast oil and gas reserves.
  • Renewable energy tapped for practical purposes. Renewable energy has always been a topic of interest to consumers but in 2009 the country made great strides in incorporating renewable power sources into our overall power supply, while recognizing both the limits of these sources as well as some niche applications ideally suited for renewables. Consider the solar powered trash can and some of the new uses for cow manure.
  • The argument against exporting emissions gains traction. Politics might all be local, but emissions can travel halfway around the world in no time. Those of us who support a strong domestic oil industry have always understood the folly of exporting oil production, particularly to distant destinations that lack the environmental standards we have here at home. It’s one of the reasons, we’re so opposed to low carbon fuel standards. We clearly haven’t won this argument yet, but thanks to some of our vocal supporters – and some advanced science that can actually track the movement of things like toxic clouds from coal burning power plants in China – the not-in-my-backyard line of thinking is losing some power.
  • Ocean Policy Task Force faces tough questions. If the Administration thought that while no one was looking, it could just impose a new layer of regulations on all of the industries that conduct business along the country’s waterways, it was mistaken. Shortly after the Ocean Policy Task Force was convened, lawmakers began raising questions about who would be setting the new rules and whether they could cost the country jobs.

Of course, we are a long way from winning the battle to prevent regulators from taking control of our oceans. Likewise the effort continues to bring responsible drilling and production to more of our coastal waters and ultimately produce more of the oil we consume in the U.S. In the coming weeks, we’ll outline some of the challenges for the New Year.

But for now, we leave you on an optimistic note. We thank you as always for your support.