WASHINGTON, DC – NOIA President Randall Luthi issued a statement regarding the 2012-2017 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Plan announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Nov. 8.
“A five-year leasing plan for the Outer Continental Shelf is the most important and defining action an administration takes in providing new oil and gas resources for building economic prosperity in this country. Because the federal government completely controls these vast resources of the OCS, it is a greater measurement of an administration’s policy decisions than the energy development that we see in abundance on state and private lands elsewhere in this country, which are largely outside the scope of federal decision making.”
Luthi commented that at a time when other nations are increasing their access to explore and develop offshore energy resources, “more than 97% of the federal OCS is presently not under lease.”
The statement also commented that: “this ill-conceived plan leaves us looking in the same areas we have looked for over a generation and would cast our energy reliability and security lot to the whims of other, often unfriendly nations. While today’s decision is not unexpected, the lack of new access is deeply disappointing, and frankly bears little resemblance to the President’s announcement in March of this year – amid high energy prices – that it had set the goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025.”
Luthi noted that a particularly disturbing omission from the next program is a lease sale offshore Virginia, despite “clear support” for that from the Commonwealth. “While we have seen a history of deference to states that do not want development off their shores, this represents a new direction in the history of American offshore development,” Luthi observed.
“Despite the strong bipartisan support for inclusion from the Governor, the Legislature, both Senators, and a majority of the congressional delegation, and even its inclusion in the previous five-year plan, they are being denied. As the Department of the Interior has repeatedly made clear, it would not be issuing new permits if it was not convinced that it could be done safely. If we can move ahead in the Gulf of Mexico to provide new energy and jobs to the nation, surely we can meet these challenges elsewhere in the OCS.”
Luthi concluded: “We hope the American public will fully engage in the upcoming comment period about the need to do more, not less, now that this long awaited plan is available for review. We call upon the Congress to take up bipartisan legislation, already cleared by the House, which would provide greater access to the OCS, in Virginia and elsewhere, in order to provide new jobs, new desperately needed federal revenues to the treasury, and new energy needed to achieve the economic prosperity the nation so greatly desires.”