By ASHLEY E. ORGAN, Assistant Editor

Defining an effective energy policy has moved to the front burner in Washington.

At Ernst & Young’s Energy Executive Insight Session, “Energy in an uncertain political world,” held on Aug. 31, 2010, in Houston, Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, agreed that there is a need for an energy policy that is both cohesive and comprehensive.

While renewable energy sources and natural gas production regulations cannot be excluded from the political discussion, it was the offshore drilling moratorium that played an important role during the panel debate. The moratorium is scheduled to be lifted on Nov. 30, 2010, however Dean and Gillespie believe it will be lifted earlier.

The government likely will wait until shortly after mid-term elections to avoid giving either political party an edge. According to Dean, Democrats do not want to appear weak to supporters by giving in to the requests of the oil and gas industry, and Gillespie said Republicans do not want voters to side with Democratic candidates if the moratorium is lifted before the election.

Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEM), hosted a forum on offshore drilling on Sept. 8, 2010, in Houston, during which he talked about his role in helping to determine the way forward. According to Bromwich, the moratorium is in effect until the end of November, or until such earlier time as Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar determines that deepwater drilling operations can proceed safely with the appropriate HSE protections in place.

The purpose of the forums is to collect public and expert input regarding drilling and workplace safety, wild well intervention and containment techniques, and oil spill response capabilities for offshore drilling and production facilities. Further, the forums will allow Bromwich to identify whether modifications to the scope or duration of the moratorium is warranted.

His report to the US Department of the Interior, which will be generated following the public forums, will be submitted well before the Oct. 31 deadline, which supports Dean and Gillespie’s viewpoint that the moratorium will be lifted before the scheduled date.

For additional information from the BOEM Forum, visit