Pub. 3 2021-2022 Issue 3


President’s Message Rikki Hrenko-Browning

In Act 2, Scene 2 of Hamlet, Hamlet says, “The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”

In case it’s been too long since high school English class, here’s the context: Hamlet seeks to stage a play to help confirm his suspicions that his uncle Claudius killed his father. Dramatic presentations allow for an expression of ideas taboo or dangerous in direct conversation or other forms of communication. Essentially, Hamlet can outright accuse his uncle of murder in the context of a play and then watch his reaction to it. That reaction will inform Hamlet’s understanding of his uncle’s innocence or guilt.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine does not pose an immediate existential threat to the United States in the way it does to the people and institutions of Ukraine. While the ripple effects of this invasion have been and will continue to be, felt here and throughout the world for a long time to come, in practical terms, we watch the events unfold from afar and react with shock, horror, and dismay. One impact felt perhaps more virulently than any other is the dramatic increase in the cost of energy, which has ripple effects that travel far and wide, touching nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

Were you to look it up, here is the definition of theater of war in the dictionary: “the entire land, sea, and air area that is or may become involved directly in war operations.” That’s Ukraine.

If you look up the term theater in the dictionary, its definition is “a building or area for dramatic performances.” When it comes to addressing the problem of rising energy costs, that’s Washington, D.C.

As the theater of war continues to play out half a world away, we cannot help but be dismayed by the energy policy theater of the current administration. Half-measures are enacted, short-term fixes are deployed, and nods and feints in the direction of real action are pantomimed, but real solutions remain fixed in opaque purgatory, wondering if they’ll ever see the light of day.

The inconvenient truth this administration must face is that the only action that will make a material difference in the long-term cost of energy, with the added benefits of economic prosperity and domestic energy security, is increased domestic energy production. That’s it. The United States produces more oil and natural gas than any other country on earth and does so with significantly fewer emissions and impacts. The fact is we can produce more for our own use and ship fuel to our allies, which would help decrease Russia’s leverage over vulnerable parts of the world and our geopolitical goals.

In a vacuum, this is uncomplicated. Of course, we do not live in a vacuum; we live in a world where President Biden promised to transition the country away from the use of fossil fuels and a world where his team carries out actions designed to stifle the industry. In this world, President Biden ordered a release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help bring down gas prices, begged other countries to produce more oil and gas, considered suspending the federal gas tax, and offered a half-hearted federal lease sale for the first time in 15 months comprised of 80% less acreage than usual with an 18.75% royalty rate (a 50% increase) after a court found their suspension of lease sales illegal.

The world will still depend on oil and natural gas, not only for heating and transportation, but for the tens of thousands of products we use every day. The question is: from where do we want that oil and natural gas to come? Our strong preference is here in the United States, where we have the strongest environmental protections of anywhere in the world, unparalleled technological innovation, and a workforce ready, willing and able to meet the demand

It’s not clear that President Biden shares our view. Check out our regulatory update in this issue to get a sense of all the ways our current administration is showing their true intentions regarding our domestic energy security.

As actions on the world stage continue to play out, we wonder what will be the thing to catch the conscience of our President and turn our industry loose to help in the ways we know we can. That’s not as catchy as Shakespeare, but we’re not poets.

We drill wells and produce products.

Enjoy the issue.