September 21, 2009

Ms. Renee Orr
Five-Year Program Manager
Minerals Management Service (MS-4010)
381 Elden Street
Herndon, VA 20170

Dear Ms. Orr:

On behalf of the members of the Southeast Energy Alliance, I am writing to express our strong support for the Draft Proposed OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2010-2015 (DPP) and commitment to creating a new Five Year Plan by the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) for mid-2010 to mid-2015 to succeed the current 2007-2012 program. By expanding offshore exploration and production to new areas in the Pacific, Alaska, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, the new Five Year Program will provide the United States with an opportunity to responsibly produce domestic energy, provide significant economic benefits, create American jobs and decrease our dependence on foreign energy.

The Southeast Energy Alliance is a non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to the development and implementation of sound energy policy that will ensure affordable and reliable energy supplies for the families, farms and businesses of the Southeast. Our members include state farm bureaus, state manufacturing associations, state chambers, rural electric cooperatives, small businesses and individuals from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

SEA applauds MMS for proposing a strong new Five Year Plan that takes into account the recent revocation of the Presidential Moratorium on OCS production and record-high oil, gasoline and diesel prices experienced in 2008. We believe that the 31 lease sales proposed in the Draft Proposed Plan will appropriately provide access to responsible oil and natural gas development while ensuring substantial environmental protections to potentially affected areas. We applaud MMS and the Department of the Interior for proposing a comprehensive offshore energy policy that will effectively alleviate high consumer energy prices and reduce our reliance on imported oil.

During the eight months that the Department of the Interior has been taking comments on the Draft Proposed Plan for 2010-2015, SEA has been involved in forums, panel-discussions and stakeholder meetings throughout the Southeast, all of which have demonstrated an enormous support for OCS exploration and production throughout the region – from political and industry leaders to small businesses, farmers and citizens that feel the economic pinch of high energy prices.

This overwhelming regional support for OCS Access has been accompanied by a region-wide recognition that Congress and the Administration need to allow state and coastal communities to receive a fair share of royalty revenues derived from oil & gas production adjacent to their coasts. Many Coastal States have expressed interest in understanding more about the available resources off their shores and the royalty revenues that could be derived if development were to occur.

SEA strongly supports the Draft Proposed Plan’s inclusion of three lease sales in the Mid-Atlantic Region and one proposed lease sale in the South Atlantic Region, and urges the Department to include all of these lease sales in the Proposed Plan when it is published. In addition, SEA urges the expansion of the planned special interest sale scheduled for 2011 (Lease Sale 220) from including only an area in Virginia’s adjacent waters to including the adjacent waters of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia as well.

On behalf of the millions of families, farms, factories and businesses that call the Southeast home and are affected by skyrocketing energy prices, we believe that implementation of the leasing schedule proposed in the Draft Proposed OCS Leasing Plan for 2010-2015 – as well as sensible action by Congress to provide states with a fair share of revenues derived from production off their coasts – will play a critical role in creating a robust national energy policy and securing our energy future.


Michael Whatley
Executive Director
Southeast Energy Alliance