From 2017 to 2021, Scott Angelle was the director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which regulates the operations of the energy industry on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. In this episode, Angelle talks about the enormous volumes of hydrocarbons that are produced in the Gulf of Mexico, how Louisiana is different from the rest of the United States, and why we should be producing more oil and gas here instead of asking OPEC and Russia to “give us the energy we need to fuel our country.”
Robert Bryce 0:04
Hi, and welcome to the power hungry Podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. On this podcast we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And my guest. Today is Scott on gel. He is the former director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement at the Department of the Interior. He served in that position from 2017 to 2012 21. Scott, welcome to the power hungry podcast.
Scott Angelle 0:25
Thank you, Robin, it’s great to join you. And thank you for the great work you’re doing across America.
Robert Bryce 0:29
Well, thank you. So I warned you I have my guests introduce themselves. So imagine you’ve arrived at crawdad boil or something, and you don’t know anyone there you got 45 seconds or 60 seconds to introduce yourself. Go ahead and tell me who you are.
Scott Angelle 0:45
Yeah, so I would say that I’m a country boy, from the great state of Louisiana at the great State of the Union and absolutely believes that energy matters. I’ve dedicated my career to advancing energy causes. I certainly believe that energy has been one of the things that has made America really, really strong after World War Two, I have served in a variety of positions, including local government, state government and federal government. Keep in mind the ball and knowing that taxpayers taxpayers deserve the kind of service that we would all be proud of. So we’ve kept our nose clean. We’ve done good work, and now we’re trying to do additional good work.
Robert Bryce 1:21
All right, fair enough. Now and you’re a native of Lafayette, is that right? Actually a
Scott Angelle 1:26
little town right? I’ll call bro bridge. Six miles from Lafayette certainly went to school and laugh yet. Entertaining laugh yet shopping laugh yet retailer laugh yet. And certainly Louisiana is a great, great place and Lafayette is one of those great places. Okay, so
Robert Bryce 1:42
now remember, mood lots. The famous boroughbridge is famous for mood lots, right? His most famous restaurant rainbow bridge.
Scott Angelle 1:49
And then right down the road, actually right down the road from Lafayette. That’s right.
Robert Bryce 1:53
Yeah, I’ve been there. So you were at the in the Department of Interior at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, then your your purview was offshore safety and mainly in oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. Is that right?
Scott Angelle 2:08
So we actually have three parts of our mission, Congress has given us three parts of our mission. One of them is safety. One of them is Environmental Enforcement. And the other one is conservation of resources to make sure that we don’t waste the resources. So conservation of resources in oil and gas is made to be understood as production. So we were proud that in in 2019, we had the highest production we ever had in the history of offshore America in 2019. I’ll say the record has been improving every year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics now says that for several years, offshore is the safest second high hazard industry in America, second only to nuclear power generation. So a lot, a lot of good things. In course, on the environmental side, just incredible efforts since the Macondo event. So we proud of the proud of what happened during our service there.
Robert Bryce 3:02
So in Deepwater Horizon, I remember it well, because it came out. Right, as my fourth book was coming out power hungry. This was April of 2000 10am. I remember that. So it was that the well, let me come back to the safety issue. You mentioned a record production out of the Gulf of Mexico. So how important is a hydrocarbon production from the Gulf of Mexico for the US as a whole?
Scott Angelle 3:26
Well, today represents about 50% of America’s oil portfolio. So obviously, very, very important. And although we have four oceans in America, the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Pacific in the Gulf, 98% of that 50% comes from the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico is the smallest geographically of those four oceans. But it is a whopper when it comes to production for this country. And I would go back, Robert, and say that after 1973, after the Arab oil embargo, the Gulf of Mexico is one of those provinces that really went to work to help get America from being such an energy dependent province, to where we’ve come from, since then, and the Gulf is drilling more wells, more production, great opportunities there. And folks, the men and women who work in the Gulf of Mexico often sound like me with this Cajun accent. They’re proud of what they do. And there are faces to these places,
Robert Bryce 4:23
faces to these places. I like that. So why is the Gulf you know, for it’s gone in and out of favor, right among people who are looking for hydrocarbons. And in the last few years, I’ve noticed that a lot of foreign companies have come into the Gulf of Mexico, Petrobras, others that are seeing the opportunity there. Why is the Gulf of Mexico such an attractive place for for drillers, domestic or foreign drillers? why did why do they why do they want to come into the Gulf of Mexico?
Scott Angelle 4:49
Well, the number one reason is got great rocks, great geology. We’ve been blessed with great geology in the Gulf of Mexico wells that produce tremendous amounts of value. Again, not for everybody deepwater, we only have 68 deepwater facilities. And we can go back and reset some of those metrics for you, when I say that we have 50% of our nation’s oil comes from offshore comes from the Gulf of Mexico, I should say. And of that 50% 98% of that comes from deepwater, we only have 68 deepwater facilities in all of the Gulf of Mexico. And so, deepwater is not just for anybody, you got to have a strong balance sheet, you got to have some staying power, and you got to have some management. And you got to have the ability to kind of go through the cycles, as we know, it’s a we’re all commodity oil is a world commodity, often impacted by events across the gold, and you got to have a balance sheet to be able to handle those cycles.
Robert Bryce 5:47
Well, so when you say that I remember it, because I’ve, you know, followed Texas, oil and gas production and overall energy production in the US. The first offshore well was was if memory serves curve McGee and something like 12 or 14 feet of water. I mean, these were the the initial growth in the Gulf of Mexico was in very shallow water, and it was baby steps. And now we’re in water depths of what are the deepest of the dead water. 1000
Scott Angelle 6:14
feet of water. Yeah, it’s incredible. We’ve gone from from that, that first well, current McGee drill where you actually would walk on a boardwalk if you would, to the facility from the beach. So incredible. And we’ve now drilled about probably about 60,000 wells in the outer continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico, about 50,000 of those wells would be in what we would call shallow water, 660 meters of water depth or less, and then another six 8000. Perhaps beyond that. Two different provinces. robit really, really important to understand shallow water have been around since 1947. Deepwater since 1974. One is primarily oil one is primarily gas, one as again, 50,000. Wells. So drilled one, maybe 7000 or so well drilled, so radically different in terms of although one body of water, really two separate provinces.
Robert Bryce 7:12
Well, so. So what is considered deepwater? And then what is the what are the depths of the deepest wells now that are operating?
Scott Angelle 7:19
Yeah, so we, we use a variety of things, and I would say for profit that is compensated 200 meters or less would be shallow water. So we’re talking about 660 or so feet of water depth, I’ve seen different things that we use, occasionally 1000 feet, but I will share with you for purposes of what I’m talking about 200 meters or less would be shallow water. And we’re now drilling wells in water depths of 10,000 feet. So incredible technology, you know, the most challenging thing we do environmentally honest, in this country. I mean, I’m sorry, engineering, the the most challenging engineering thing we do is space exploration. The second most challenging thing we do is deep exploration.
Robert Bryce 8:06
Well, so 10,000 feet of water depth, and then the drill string once it gets to the mud then goes down, how much further Are you got another
Scott Angelle 8:13
20,000 30,000 feet or so? So again, depending upon the target that reservoir you’re talking about, sometimes a whale bores that that may be equivalent of, you know, five, five or six miles a wellbore, below the mother.
Robert Bryce 8:29
And you mentioned the difference between the you mentioned that the shallow water versus the deep water, but the deep water in the sub salt plays, right? Those are those mostly liquid hydrocarbons are those is that gas?
Scott Angelle 8:42
Yeah, that’s where you’re going to find your liquid hydrocarbon, just tremendous oil plays their sub salt. Yes, again, we’ve been very blessed and and as a believer in natural resources, I think we have a duty and an obligation to manage all of our resources in a manner that can help improve the quality of our life. So it’s not an either or equation. So the Louisiana I certainly brought that mentality to the Department of Interior. It’s not an either or equation. What I mean by that, Robert, we shouldn’t focus on either being safe or environmentally sustainable or have good production. We prove you can do it all again in 2019. Those numbers are pretty reflective of all of the above approach. Let’s we can have it all. And look when you take a look at even the marine life, the marine life in the Gulf of Mexico is absolutely incredible. The fishing opportunities absolutely incredible. And and you will be pleased to know that the data that I reflected upon is that at least since 2017, we haven’t had a single marine mammal or sea turtle fatality from exploration and production activities. Again, a long time ago, we will I don’t think that they will fall to us as respectful of the marine life as we are today. And we’re proving every day that we not only care about human life, but we equally equally care about the marine life.
Robert Bryce 10:04
Well, so I thought about getting this to this point a little bit later. But I want to I want to pose it now because you’re you’re you’ve been your you’ve done your whole career in the oil and gas business, if I remember right, you got your degree in petroleum landmen from
Scott Angelle 10:20
natural gas spent some time in local government. So not not 100% of my career was in oil and gas, but a good part of it. Yes, sir. Right.
Robert Bryce 10:27
Well, so here’s the quick question. Why is Louisiana so different from the rest of the US? And I say that as I was there a couple of months ago, and I’ve been to, I’ve been to New Orleans several times, but it’s the vibe, the way people talk. The cuisine is different than what did you you’re a Cajun, were you how do you see this?
Scott Angelle 10:46
Well, let’s go back to Tennessee Williams, t shirt or coat I saw a t shirt recently. And he said that there are three American cities. And he talked about San Francisco, New York and New Orleans. And he said everywhere everywhere else is Cleveland.
Robert Bryce 11:07
Everywhere else is Cleveland. Right?
Scott Angelle 11:08
That’s not That’s not my point. Let me say that the great state of Louisiana prides itself on being unique. And we have to understand how we became, you know, a state in the first place and who we were settled by, you know, we the only state in the union that came in as a result of first of all being French, right. And so as a huge French influence here, it is a huge Spanish influence here. Because at one time, we were in Spanish control before that under under French control. And so there’s just a lot of different things going on, get a huge, great African American community here. And it is really this whole so called Gumball of people, right? It is this Gumball of people. And then really not a whole lot of economic added opportunities. I think that happened, maybe prior to say 1930 1940, we this is all agriculture. And then along comes the oil and gas industry and started creating some wealthier. So people really embrace the industry, they want to do it the right way. And we kind of pride ourselves on being a little different. It doesn’t mean we’re not committed to excellence, it doesn’t mean that we don’t want the same great things that other folks across the country want. It just means that you know, we we proud of the vibe that we have we proud of that difference. We embrace it, you hear it in our voice, you enjoy it at our dinner table. And when we bring you out to the dance hall when we bring you out to the dance oh, you have a hard document of this.
Robert Bryce 12:38
So when you know friends of mine who are from from south of us, 90 wise, what do they call it? The south of us 90 is down the bayou and North is what is down the bayou and everywhere else how does that break down that geographic?
Scott Angelle 12:52
Well, you know, actually so how do we not is that one of those dividers but Louisiana Highway One, when you get south of the intercostal canal on Highway One you you down to by you when you when you north the intercostal canal you up to by you and when you on this side and by you on this side by your your the other side of your body you so have divided down by your side your other side. And so that’s by the fish we talking about by the future very, very prominent by you that at one point in time was connected to the Mississippi River in Donaldsonville and actually goes all the way through through for Boucher for I’m sorry, portfolio, which is the world’s largest energy port on the planet.
Robert Bryce 13:32
Well, let’s talk about port for Shawn, because in September, I was in terrible and perish. And I know in talking with some people who work for Schwester that port food shown, I mean, got almost destroyed by Hurricane Ida. What’s What’s the latest? How is I’ll ask it this way. How has the latest hurricane affected the ability of the offshore industry to get all the things that needs what from soap to dope, the you know, all of the things that were going out of Port foo, Shawn, what’s happened now?
Scott Angelle 14:00
Yeah, you know, a lot of resilience here. So certainly, certainly a punch but not a knockout punch. I was speaking to check us on actually last week, who is the port director there? Said he probably about 60 or 70% of way back. Folks, folks know how to deal with it. Let me say, however, that this was a substantial storm that had a lot of physical impact. And, you know, people do what people do here. This is a way of life and wow, it’s tough to ever give up and so yeah, you can you can count on on port from shot to you know, after Katrina obviously, came back and then of course, after either here, still doing what it does. So there’s pretty country.
Robert Bryce 14:47
So you talked about Louisiana, one of the things that popped in my head is this idea of the divide the urban rural divide, you know, people who live in big cities and then the people who live in the countryside or in rural areas and they produce the food, fuel and fiber that then go into the cities. But it seems to me Louisiana hasn’t even kind of the natural the idea of being a producer, particularly a food, fiber and fuel. It’s a really is a natural resource state. And that that’s been, it’s been it’s both it’s a blessing and it’s curse. I mean, because you’ve had I mean, you know, Louisiana is famous for a lot of things. One of them is let’s, let’s call it what it is political corruption and kind of dominance of state politics by oil and gas. And I’m not being purposely being provocative here. But is that how do you see that in terms of the, you know, the fishing the oil and gas, I mean, they’re, they’re in conflict sometimes. But it’s a natural resource state, which really it boldly, so more than any other state in the South that I can think of at the moment. But how does that play out in the identity of the state?
Scott Angelle 15:49
Well, a couple things. First of all, let’s make it very clear. Louisiana does not have a monopoly on political corruption.
Robert Bryce 15:56
from Oklahoma, so I’m right there with you.
Scott Angelle 15:59
Wow, while we may have may have had our share of bad days, we too believe in doing the right thing. Occasionally, we’ll have a leader that will take us in the wrong spot. But every zip code in America has those issues. And so we don’t have a monopoly on that. When it comes to natural resources, there’s no doubt and it’s not just all in gas, it is certainly how agriculture’s unbelievable here, our food, our fisheries, in Louisiana is organized a little different. You know, our constitution says that we can only have 20 executive departments. And when you take a look at the number of executive departments we have, we have four that are, are are put together, specifically around resource management. So you have a separate department of environmental quality, you have a separate Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, you have a separate department of natural resources, and you have a separate department of agriculture and forestry. Those are four resource agencies of 20 total agencies in the state that ought to give your viewers I think, a little flavor for how important we believe Resource Management here areas, you know, a lot of places you put all that together under a Department of Natural Resources. We don’t do that here in Louisiana, we think these things are so important that we want a focus on Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, different from the Department of Environmental Quality, different from forestry, in different from oil and gas, which is primarily the natural resource agency here in Louisiana.
Robert Bryce 17:30
So you, you’ve been you mentioned it yourself. You’ve been in politics, the local level, you were elected in a young age 25, if I remember correctly, in the two elected office in what parish was that? I was saying Warren parish, St. Martin parish, which is just south of New Orleans?
Scott Angelle 17:47
Well, it would be east of New Orleans. Okay, contiguous contiguous the last year. I’m sorry, west of New Orleans. I’m sorry.
Robert Bryce 17:55
Okay. So what’s changed? You know, you you started as a land man, we’re asking specifically about what’s changed. I mentioned your political career. But what’s changed in the oil and gas industry over that time now your career of some 30? some odd years? Right. What was the industry itself changed? And then second question is, you were in the Trump administration? Did you expect these massive changes at the federal level under the Biden administration? But let’s take those the first. The first question first, how’s the oil and gas industry changed over that time period?
Scott Angelle 18:29
Well, again, here in Louisiana, we certainly had a situation where you could have Mom and Pop type energy companies, if you would. Companies maybe have a geologist or engineer, small staff, drilling a few whales and actually making a pretty good living on a small amount of barrels of production that has changed with the whole regulatory world over the last 15 to 20 years where they’re just not enough scale, much like with banks, and much like what insurance companies are much like with retail, you had to grow in order to be able to survive in a changing world. So that has happened, we don’t have as many Mom and Pop type oil and gas companies if you would. And that’s a shame because these folks certainly have been the backbone for a long time for many of our communities. But but that’s the evolution of business. It happens everywhere you see it in your, your hometown, we see it here as well. The other thing I will share with you is that it’s it’s my appreciation that that folks will make a living finding oil and gas for our great country have been mislabeled. I believe the folks that I know that find all and gas or either explore for it, produce it transported, refine it, process it, they love and enjoy the afternoon on the beach, A Day in the Life like a walk in the park, green grass and clean air as much as any other group of people out there as many as any other group of people. occupations. So I think what has happened is that folks are beginning to wake up to the idea is that they’ve got to do a better job of telling their story. And one of the things that I want to do one of my efforts is to help energy workers tell their story, and have them share their involvement with their interaction with the environment. Look, I think, you know, we’ve all had challenges we’ve, every generation has its challenge, a challenge, I’m not saying the challenge, but a challenge of our generation is to seek to improve the environment without wrecking the economy, we’ve had six recessions in 1973, in this country, and each one of those recessions have been preceded by a spike in energy prices. As goals, our access to affordable energy in this country, so goes out economic performance, when we have flat, predictable energy prices, we build and sell more cars, we build and sell more houses, retail is stronger, leisure stronger, restaurants are stronger. And the facts are not debatable that from 1973, to 2019, we’ve had these six recessions, and they’ve all been preceded by a spike in energy prices. And I for one, you can put me in the category that I believe go to do everything we can to make sure that we have a clean and vibrant and sustainable environment, but also put me in a category that believes what to do this things that we can to make sure that we have a sustainable economy. You know, Robin, somewhere along the line, there was a meeting, I don’t know, you, maybe you went to this meeting. But somebody went to a meeting and said, the red states are going to be about energy. And the blue states are going to be about environment. Those are the two E’s. And I’m saying no, no, there’s a third E. And it’s purple. It’s not red, and it’s not blue. It’s a purple E and it’s a cold economy. And we need to make sure that those three E’s of Environment, Energy Economy are in balance with one another, because it reminds me of the three legged bar stool. If one leg goes a little shorter than the others, we know what happens. And we’re kind of beginning to see some of that right now, which is incredibly unaffordable energy prices that we’re experiencing this country more so because we’re out of balance on how we’re trying to approach the problem. It’s such seemed like to me, it’s like squeezing a water balloon as a kid, you know, when you squeeze a water balloon, you don’t get rid of the water, you just move it from one side to the other. And so I think that there’s a water balloon out there five national policy, one of them is represented by the economy, one of them represented by energy, and one of them represented by the environment. They see like, what’s going on today is that we just squeezing things, rather than having a plan. And I’m hopeful that it’s not too late, that we can have a course correction is been odd to me to see from January of this year, from January of this year. We went from Oh, no meaning we were going to pause leasing on on federal lands and waters. And we went from Oh, no, the OPEC. Right. We went from Oh, no, in January 2021, two summer, my summer 2021. We will call it on OPEC. And if you go to the gas pump in October 2021 are now today November in for maybe 19 months, we’ve gone from Ono, to OPEC. To Oh shit.
That’s what people are experiencing right now at the gas pump. That the kind of moment we have, and for the President. And again, I don’t I’m not being critical of the person. But the policies. Robert, can you imagine that the Gulf of Mexico has some of the most climate advantage production on the planet. And rather than calling for more Gulf of Mexico production, we go to OPEC. It’s just ridiculous.
Robert Bryce 23:43
Well, let me ask about that. Because that’s one of the things that it looks like what’s happening in Europe today is providing a lesson to the United States about what not to do. But But I agree with you in terms of the oil price, that it’s clear that recessions are often triggered or immediately follow oil price spikes. So but you know, I know you served in the Trump administration, I want to ask about that. But to what extent can you I mean, I’m going to ask you plainly that you can point the high oil price at the Biden administration is because that they’re they’re trying to limit drilling, or is this just the snapback of the economy, and overall not enough supply globally?
Scott Angelle 24:23
Well, this is a this is a self inflicted wound. This is a supply problem that we have in this country. You we vilified producers. We vilify producers in in a way that we haven’t vilified a industry since the days of prohibition. And when you vilify industry, capital is going to be withdrawn. There is such an under investment in the oil and gas exploration business right now in this country. So we’re basically said that our own producers, we don’t want it. We don’t spend any money. Don’t drill any more wells. We don’t want to lease anything. And then we run across to OPEC. can say no, no, we want you all to do it. Think for a second. Robert, if we were starving here, if food prices were going up, if grain prices were going up, imagine, imagine we would say, No, no, we don’t want your Braska and Kansas to form the Iowa to form we’re gonna leave say no to y’all, but we’re gonna go somewhere else to get, you know, to feed up to feed our population. It just it doesn’t make sense, especially when the facts and the science say that the Gulf of Mexico has the second best performing carbon intensity production in all the world.
Robert Bryce 25:34
Well, so let me let me let me jump back here about the Trump administration and what you you know, your work there? What was it like? Alas, the general question first. And so there was a lot of controversy around interior with with Secretary Zinke he who I you know, was, from all appearances it was forced out, what was it like working in there? If you hadn’t worked in Washington before? Right? You’d been in Louisiana your whole career? What was that like? And what was it like being inside the Trump administration?
Scott Angelle 26:03
Like, see, I went to Washington to do a job was that your duty? For me? It was a, it was my understanding that it’s the offshore sector needed a champion. And so my experience in Washington is probably different from most people that went to Washington, I live a block and a half away from the White House, I walk to work every day, I work seven days a week when I was in Washington, I did not go to a single party when I was in Washington. And I stayed focused on my portfolio, doing what the American people paid me to do. So for me, the experience was great. I was totally focused on my own portfolio, doing a great work of advancing safety, advancing environmental sustainability, and thinking that we can advance production simultaneously. And we did so for me, it was a great experience, because I was totally focused on on my portfolio.
Robert Bryce 26:58
So are you surprised? I mean, you mentioned the Biden ministration. And I, you know, I don’t consider myself a partisan. I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I’m disgusted. But I mean, I knew the Biden administration was going to be different. Did you expect that their agenda would be as anti hydrocarbon as it is? Because I mean, it is. I mean, or even look at the congressional hearing recently, where they called the heads of the oil and gas companies up on the carpet to say, Well, why are you not singing from our tune on the him on on climate change? I mean, it’s the the change in the American the leadership, both in Congress and in the Biden ministration. I mean, it’s been enormous. It was just a huge change from what it was under Trump. How did you you’ve been watching politics a long time, what did you expect it to be this radical put it that way? Well, you
Scott Angelle 27:45
know, I think that climate change was on the ballot. I think that was one of the things that was on the ballot. So yeah, I certainly expected that it would be some change that part that I, I think I I’m a little surprised by that the change is not supported by science, when we talk about offshore. So specifically talking about offshore mean, I understand that, that politics often drives policy, I get that. But also believe that when you’re talking about making big policy decisions, you inform yourself with the facts and the science matters. In this particular situation, the thing that has been surprising is again, that we would we would turn to OPEC instead of folks here in America. That’s surprising to me. What also has surprised me is that I saw where the Department of Energy last week, maybe two weeks ago, important, and I think you shared this with your viewers, Department of Energy came out, under the Biden administration, in said, concluded that oil and natural gas is going to be a big part of our energy complex for a long time. Now, I think many of us who believe that we are in an energy transition phase of America, I fundamentally believe that we have to do this in a balanced way. Folks, I think we’re kind of hijacking the conversation. It’s a no we need to do it, the more we need to get it done, the more it’s not possible to do it tomorrow. But don’t take my word for the Department of Energy career employees just put out a report that clearly indicate and concluded with what many have said before. So I what I’m surprised is that they’re not listening to those experts, and then continuing on. So recently, where the White House or the President basically said here, that more oil production is not inconsistent with climate change improvements. That was a statement he made over the weekend. You can have an issue. I’m happy to share it with you. I’ll email it to you to the program. Sure. And so what I think when we are saying here, folks that, that who understand that our children are going to have access to energy sources for different from only what we had, that’s okay. Nothing wrong with that. But we need to do it taking a page out of the, you know, the lesson learned from the Europeans, we need to have a plan, you shouldn’t be a water balloon, we should squeeze one thing and let the water go somewhere else. And then, oh, that didn’t work, start squeezing it somewhere else. So what I’m been surprised about is the inconsistency. The incompetence, and we sticking a middle finger at the workers of the America, USA energy workers is disheartening. Is you know, Robin, we you’ve never heard something called USA warming. You’ve heard of something called global warming. Right? So tell me my friend, tell me, my friend. When we look at this. And you ask the question about what we think is surprising. Isn’t it surprising that we would say, Okay, we need more energy to fuel our great country, maybe we’ll work on this energy transition. And while we need it, let’s go get it where it’s less climate advantage. How? I mean, it’s difficult for folks to understand that that’s not a nefarious motive at play. Because it doesn’t make sense. You’ve never heard the phrase USA warming. So why would we go say, why would we go to OPEC and beg them to give us more production, rather than going to the Gulf of Mexico, or the Permian, or some of those other places where we have climate advantage production?
Robert Bryce 31:40
So let me shift gears here a little bit. And we’ll and by the way, so my guess is Scott on Joe, he’s the you can find out more about him at USA energy workers calm, which is a new new website that you’re putting up to tilt to talk about energy workers in America. Is that right?
Scott Angelle 31:55
Yeah, we need to stand without energy workers, you know, and not not just traditional energy workers, all forms energy workers, we need to rally around my energy workers are energy workers often do the work when they kiss their families goodbye, putting on their hard hats in the steel toed boots that we don’t want to do. And we have the luxuries of a climate controlled home. I like to say if you can, if you can read, thank a teacher, if you can read at night, in a climate controlled home, thank a teacher and a USA energy worker.
Robert Bryce 32:28
And so and that’s the goal of your website is to just bring bring those people, as you say, in the hard hats and steel toed boots to their voices more to the conversation, is that the goal?
Scott Angelle 32:37
Yeah, and I think in addition to that, is we’ll have a place for, you know, folks to sign a petition, just again, asking our local, state and federal leaders to work together in a balanced approach, as we are into this energy transition phase of the planet, that we have a balanced approach that we don’t wreck the economy, while we’re trying to improve the environment. And there’s, there’s a way to do it. I mean, again, we if we had more, not less on gas production today, today, Robin, we could improve the quality and the health of Mother Earth today, if we had more production from the Gulf of Mexico and less from Venezuela.
Robert Bryce 33:17
So let me ask about offshore production, because one of the big pushes that the Biden ministration has been making is for offshore wind. And so I’ve written about this a fair amount. And the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which I guess is a parallel agency under Department of Interior to where you work, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. So they had estimated recently that some about 22 gigawatts of offshore wind could be developed in the Atlantic, in the Atlantic Ocean, when you assume three and a half megawatts, 3.6 megawatts. We’re talking about 6000 offshore platforms in the Atlantic just for the wind business. And there are something like 1900 platforms in the entire Gulf of Mexico. Let me ask the question, is it feasible that there would be that many offshore platforms built in in the Atlantic or anywhere else in a reasonable timeframe? It seems like a stretch to believe that we could even get that many permitted, given all the issues around offshore development, the ocean floor, migratory mammals, you know, marine mammals, etc. How do you how do you see just the sheer number of platforms that are being proposed here?
Scott Angelle 34:26
It’s not the answer to everything, but it’s certainly as you know, a policymaker that does embrace all of the above, I think it’d be part of the solution. Certainly, there’s going to be a limit on the number of facilities that you can have in you know, certain density you beneficiaries, issues you have to worry about in the shipping issues. So all those are going to come into play, but we ought not be defeated. We will not say well, it’s going to be too hard. We think of think at all and gas industry. I mean, it has been really difficult but yet, you know when you unleash the innovation, the inspiration and the dedication of American workers, you get some incredible results. So no, I don’t believe that offshore wind energy is the panacea, the end all be all. But I certainly believe it can add to the portfolio as soon as solar can.
Robert Bryce 35:16
Well, fair enough. But I’m just asking about the scale, because it took decades to build 1900 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. And now the goals are in just a couple of decades to put in 52345 6000 offshore platforms just for the wind business. My question is, is it even feasible that they could do that, given your experience in offshore?
Scott Angelle 35:39
Yeah, I’m not in the business of predicting feasibility of the market. But what I can say is that those are substantial challenges. They are substantial environmental challenges. They are substantial permitting challenges. And so yeah, there, whether it’s feasible or not, remains to be seen, capital will go where capital can get permits, and get a return on his investment. And when capital is no longer able to get permits, and capital can no longer get a return on investment, then it will stop seeking those opportunities.
Robert Bryce 36:11
Well, so let’s talk about capital then, because I’m glad you did the so one of the issues that’s been key for oil and gas drilling in the US now is lack of capital and the demand from investors that the oil and gas industry live within its means that they don’t overspend as they did, during the heyday of the shale revolution and $300 billion was essentially burned up making oil and gas a lot cheaper. But now and when I talk to people in the industry, they’re saying, Look, we you know, the prices have gone up inflation for drilling everything, the prices have all gone up. What do you see? I mean, is the is I’ll ask the question this way. Is the industry responding to higher prices with more drilling? Do you see an increase in activity offshore now due to oil at 80? And at gas in excess of five?
Scott Angelle 36:58
I see offshore a willingness to do more to take advantage of the opportunities. Certainly we’re seeing records go up in America onshore. Okay.
Robert Bryce 37:10
And but yeah, but only a little bit, right. I mean, just just
Scott Angelle 37:13
a little bit and part of that is because the host nation is vilifying the expenditure of that capital, you know, think of think of think of it as the investment of billions of dollars, that has a, a period of time before you you can recover your investment. And you hear about all of this, this negativity towards the industry. And it’s like, you know, this is not stuff you turn the switch on at all, it takes the expenditure of capital, it takes a lot of money it takes being able to arrive ups and downs. But stuff a second Robert, this is important to get that wow, we are saying that, while the country at the highest levels, is vilifying vilifying producers, and, and in one hand in January, say no, we pause in these, and we don’t want this anymore. By summertime, we go into OPEC. And then I saw a article that came out recently again, by world oil, I’m happy to send it to you that the State Department the headlines and said that, that we are instructing the verb instructing domestic oil producers to produce more. So there’s a reason that capital is not gone, capital goes where capital is treated well, capital goes where capital has an opportunity for return on investment. And if we vilify it, and we continue to vilify it, and we’ve even made it harder for banks, not not the people actually doing the will. But for the people loaning the money to grow the well, we’re talking about SEC reporting requirements, banks having to disclose all this information. It’s all designed to vilify the production of a domestic barrel, wow, prices go up. And we go across to the Middle East, and we get on our knees, and we beg people to give us production because $4 gas starts to get uncomfortable, but politically.
Robert Bryce 39:18
So let me ask you about this. Look, you’ve been in politics a long time you were in Washington for a long time. What’s this really about? I mean, your view I mean, I my own opinions about what’s really at foot, you know, at play here, but this is you, you’ve made this point. Now, several times in this last 30 or 40 minutes we’ve been talking the vilification of the industry. What what’s driving this?
Scott Angelle 39:39
Well, it appears to me there is a sincere desire by a group of leaders who are interested in solving some of the issues associated that the Paris accord has brought up the climate change in global warming. I take them at their word for Their motive there, or disagree with their actions. And so I then have to then start, maybe rethinking what the motive is, because again, don’t take my word for it. Let me give you another example in 2016, and 2016. In November 2016, boom, you talked about the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. In 2016, Boehm issued a report under the Obama Biden administration. And they concluded in 2016, that not having a lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, will lead to greater greenhouse gases, because supply would be substituted from a foreign source. Bingo, stop and think about
Robert Bryce 40:50
and that was and and hit on your point earlier saying that the foreign sources of production are more carbon intensive than production in the Gulf of Mexico years.
Scott Angelle 40:59
So it wasn’t the Trump administration or some right wing fault that concluded that it was folks who were working in Obama Biden administration, they concluded put it out in a federal document, I’m happy to get it to you. And in in that document, they said that if we don’t have a lease sale, we’re going to have higher greenhouse gas emissions, because we’re going to substitute for foreign production. Well, then we get to January of 2021. And the first thing we do, or one of the first things we do is we pause, lease sales, on public borders.
Robert Bryce 41:31
And that was and that was one of the first things that Biden administration has done, but are is that lease sale now gonna happen?
Scott Angelle 41:38
Well, it’s scheduled to happen in November, on November the 17th. So 16 days from now, when we’re recording this program. Now, having said that, you know, the lease sale happens. And then after the lease sale happens, there are certain processes that have to take place for those leases to be issued. So we’re hopeful that not only did the federal judge have challenge to go ahead and have a lease sale, but that they understand that the need to get these leases into research into perhaps exploration wells in production is very important. Again, why are we going why are we going to OPEC? Why are we asking Russia OPEC? Plus, while we asking Russia to give us the energy to fuel our country? That’s just, it’s just odd to me. Now? No, Robin, perhaps I would get it. If we didn’t have it here. Or if we had it, it was so inferior here. Maybe would be worth having a meeting. But I think your view is asking the same question. We’re having higher prices. And not all by the way, not just not just gasoline, right? Gasoline prices up 50% Since beginning of the year, but natural gas, there will be people listening to the story, my friend who this winner, if we have a tough one, there are going to be people who listen to this story glass don’t make a choice between buying medicine, or paying for the mother utility bill 48% of electricity in Louisiana, the source product is is natural gas. So as natural gas moves up. And again, this is a self inflicted wound, where if we recognize that we never gonna have the cheapest labor on the planet. And we found fine with that. That’s not who we are. But one of the things that has kept us competitive in this world economy is our innovation of technology and our affordable, predictable energy. We’re losing that.
Robert Bryce 43:34
So as you say that, and one of the things that pops in my head is just asking the question. So if there’s no question hydrocarbons dominate America’s primary energy use, they dominate globally. What’s your view on nuclear? Then we talked a little bit about when we haven’t talked about nuclear at all. What’s your view on nuclear? You have the Louisiana you have you have three nuclear plants in Louisiana has that right?
Scott Angelle 43:55
To for sure. Maybe three, but very soon? Yeah, very significant. And again, all of the above all the above, let’s not put our eggs in one basket. You know, nuclear has a place. And it certainly has a place in Louisiana provide some very affordable energy here for to add to the portfolio of natural gas. We have some coal, coal, coal facilities here as well. So again, this idea that we just have to say no, not in my backyard is just not an American thing. In my mind, I think there’s opportunities for us to reach a balance. And again, I’m preaching the balance of the three E’s a balance of the three E’s. Again, somehow, someway, the red states became around energy, the blue states became a binary environment. And so purple e is the economy. And unless we can focus on that as well, then we’re going to go down a path I think is going to lead to some implosion of our economy.
Robert Bryce 44:52
Well, it certainly seems like a real possibility because you say high oil prices. High energy prices generally correlate very well. Well with with recessions, so what are you? What are you doing now after being out of the federal government? What’s your plan? What do you do? You got this website, USA energy workers.com. What else are you doing? And your what’s your what’s your, what’s your next or what is repositioning? As my friend Peter, I was no said,
Scott Angelle 45:16
Yeah, well, this is my longest time, for the longest time while I was in government often felt that the energy worker, himself or herself did not have a strong inner voice. And I think has been a mistake, because I think we want to take a page out of the foremost playbook. When I watch the farmers and the farmers move public policy, we lead with khaki pants, and flannel shirts, and tractors. America loves farmers, we love people who work outside and sweat until so we should. There’s a love affair for for folks who do that and produce the food that we need in the fiber. I believe that what has been missing in the equation is that somebody’s really concerned about the worker. And so my whole process and my whole thoughts right now are to make sure that we are celebrating and elevating the USA energy worker in a way that hasn’t happened before. So I’m out there doing my thing. And I’m advocating to try to make certain that the points have ended. I couldn’t write the script. I mean, this is unbelievable, Robert, that I’m out there talking about the USA energy work in February. And people Yeah, well, whatever, whatever. Like, oh, we got some really good production. We got some good, yeah, well, whatever. And I told people I said, you know, people won’t be listening. Unless energy prices start moving. People won’t be listening about balancing and taking care of the economy until the fuel prices start moving. So this is what happens, Robert, as prices go down, we get worried about the environment. As prices go up, we get worried about the economy. But that’s still rough. That’s no way to run it run the organization, right, and still work with that knowledge. And so one of the things that I think is missing in the balance of the conversation is the worker. So we’re trying to do that. And I’m out there advocating and bringing out points using a mic furious as the longest serving director in the history of the Bureau of Iraq Safety and Environmental Enforcement, having had the opportunity to serve as lieutenant governor, having had the opportunity to serve as Secretary of Natural Resources, and in local government as an elected parish president. I think I get it, I think people are concerned. And absolutely, I want to create environment. Absolutely do I just happen to believe that both are possible, a clean environment, a sustainable environment, and a strong economy by affordable energy prices, I think the those things can happen together.
Robert Bryce 47:46
You can run for office again.
Scott Angelle 47:48
You don’t know if I’m right now I’m running away.
Robert Bryce 47:53
Running away running away from what
Scott Angelle 47:56
I can take as a grass and run away from the home or right now.
Robert Bryce 48:01
Because you because I gotta tell you when you know, you made your points and I’m you know, I’m on board with you. But you sound like you’re on the you’re getting ready to jump on the stump there because you got the you got the lines ready to go. You mean you know, I’m just telling you straight.
Scott Angelle 48:14
If you see if you run into me in the field roll on Sunday, June, the fifth you on Sunday church, you will get the same Scott, you will get this all the time. This is not just for me that I don’t have a note in front of me. I don’t have a single note in front of me. I’m just giving you what’s on my heart that I believe. I really do believe, Robert, that after World War Two, one of the single reasons that we were able to become the world’s first superpower was affordable energy. I really really believe that breathing my heart
Robert Bryce 48:48
with you the Rural Electrification act of 1939 1930 changed America and then set the table after World War Two just change the change the complexion and economy of the country forever.
Scott Angelle 49:00
The Eisenhower interstate system. Yeah, the biggest environment, the biggest economic development project in the history of the globe, allows us to move live in places we don’t work. It just is incredible. And so I believe in energy and and so I’m just gonna be out there and, you know, telling my story with the facts. Just with the facts. You know, it’s like Captain Joe Friday, just the facts, man.
Robert Bryce 49:24
There’s, there’s a there’s a reach into the past bill. Yeah. Bill Gannon, Bill Gannon and Joe Friday. That’s right. So what about let me ask you about inflation in oil and gas industry? Because I’ve talked to several people in the drilling sector recently. And they’re not drilling, even though their prices are up. But then one of the things they say the reason that’s holding them back is increased costs. You know, price of energy itself is that the price of producing energy, it appears to be going up for labor, you know, mud, all these other things. What do you hear about that? What do you know about those rising prices just in terms of making drilling happen?
Scott Angelle 49:59
Yeah, well I’m not aware of anybody that’s not invested in the drill bit because of rising costs. I mean, obviously, as the price of the commodity goes up, there’s going to be a reaction prices have been depressed for a while in the service sector. So it’s only natural that as we go from where we were to where we are now, you would see some adjustments I’m seeing everywhere as far as that, but I’m not aware of anybody who is they may be, but I’m just not aware of anybody who has not invested in drillbit because prices are going up. What I do believe our ways that I’m aware of is people are fearful that one day, their government works wakes up and says we don’t want it from you anymore. But we go get it from somewhere else. And there are a lot of towns here in this area, you know, that that you may or may not be familiar with, but but I would say we ought to put Abbeyfield before Algeria, we ought to put Lake author in Lake Charles and laugh yet, in the rolls over Libya, we ought to put capital, the Kuwait there are great opportunities to do so people are like, Why would I go invest? Why would I go invest? When I could have a stranded investment here? When the government would one stroke at a pin might do something to shut us down? And don’t think it can’t happen?
Robert Bryce 51:15
Well, let me ask you about that. Because I was talking with a guy and this is several weeks ago, but he was invested in offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and and in Mexico. And he was talking about the fact that now kind of out of nowhere, I mean, you as you said you assume political risk is in you know, Banana Republic, but what you’re what we talked about we have a use the words political risk in the United States for investment in the upstream. And is that political risk? Is that political risk increasing or decreasing?
Scott Angelle 51:44
Well, it’s, it’s, it’s at Apex right now. I mean, it’s it’s vilification is hostility, okay? It’s hostility that’s been projected, and, and it is showing up in different ways is showing up, you know, stockholders have a right stockholders, as owners have a right to what it is that they want with their the companies that they own, I get that I support it, that’s what owners want to do. But when the government is adopting, and, you know, projecting these, these vile things towards this industry, but then saying, Well, we still need it. And oh, by the way, the Department of Energy saying that, not only do we still need it, it’s going to be part of our energy complex for a long time. And that wasn’t again, that wasn’t Robert Koch, that issued that report, to the Department of Energy two weeks ago. So if we’re gonna need it, if we’re gonna need it, it’s like that old TV commercial over here, Robert, when I was a little radio commercial, and it was about a guy selling cars. And he said he had the cheapest cars in town. And he said, You already got bad cars. Why drive all over town looking for good cars? If you know, we got you already got bad cars. So in the meantime, it was effective, right. In the meantime, if we know we have climate advantage production here in America, whether again, it’s in the Permian, or whether it’s in the Gulf of Mexico, why don’t we go to OPEC? Seriously, seriously? Because the the molecules are the carbon emission that affects climate change, according to experts. You know, it’s called global warming. So Right. I mean, I, you tell me, I can’t figure this one out. And I’m not sure anybody can figure it out. Why have we gone to foreign producers to produce what we have better in this country?
Robert Bryce 53:34
So we’ve been talking about an hour again, my debt, my guest is Scott on gel, he’s, you can find more about him at USA energy. workers.com. So Scott, I asked all my guests, you know, they I asked them to introduce themselves. I asked also ask them a couple of other questions. What gives you hope,
Scott Angelle 53:51
actually gives me hope is that the American spirit is undefeated. And we’ve had our share with this country’s had his share of dark moments. But this the American hope is undefeated American workers undefeated, I’m betting on my American workers.
Robert Bryce 54:10
Last question, then what are you reading? I like to, you know, ask people about what books they’re reading. What are you reading these days?
Scott Angelle 54:18
Actually, right now, the only thing I’m reading the things that are coming out of Congress and the United States government, because trying to make sure that I can catch things that I think perhaps or maybe aiming high, but missing why? So I’m doing most of my research,
Robert Bryce 54:33
read the bill build back better act is what 19 Read that one, because that’s a big, that’s a big, big honkin document.
Scott Angelle 54:42
You know, I haven’t got through it all. But that’s what I want to kind of go through to try to make sure that build back better actually means build back better, right? Just because you call it that doesn’t mean it’s all right. And I want to build back better. I mean, I absolutely want to build back better, but we can’t build like that. If we don’t Access to affordable energy, and we keep your back better if we don’t have access to affordable energy that’s home grown by Produced by domestic workers who are paying taxes. And oh, Robert, let me make the connection to our friends in the Rockies. So one of the things that happened last year was that Congress adopted the great american outdoors. And the great american outdoors act is viewed as the most robust bipartisan conservation legislation over 50 years. And what happens in a great american outdoors is we take a portion of the royalties that are generated from offshore, and we put it into conservation. And by and large, the conservation efforts that we have in this country are in our western state, because that’s where the holdings of the American government is. Right? And so whether you in Colorado or you in Montana, are you in Wyoming? Or are you in New Mexico or wherever you may be? Those monies that we produce in the Gulf of Mexico, those royalties, or many of them are, are dedicated, legislatively dedicated as, as just a pure set aside, they don’t have to be appropriated. They just set aside to fund restoration in our parks and our trails and those kind of things. So we’d like to thank that for every dollar that we produce, not only are we helping to pay for the government, but we are some of that money is going to help pay for the activities or the maintenance which were going on in our parks. So we’re connected in a gas tank, you know, at the gas pump to the Gulf of Mexico in ways that perhaps we don’t often think we knew we didn’t do a better job of that. Again, when we buy oil from when we get oil from from OPEC. By the way, no money goes to the great american outdoors. When we get money from OPEC, by the way, no money goes to fund coastal restoration. When we get oil from OPEC, no money goes to fund Land and Water Conservation Act. There is a connection here, we can do a better job, we need to lower the temperature and seek balance as opposed to the thinking of the next election instead of the next generation.
Robert Bryce 57:13
Well, I think that’s a good summary for what what we’ve been talking about. So, my guest again, Scott and Jill Scott, thanks a million for being on the power hungry podcast. And do all of you out in podcast land. Thanks for tuning in. Tune in for the next episode of the power hungry podcast until then, see ya.