WASHINGTON – October 1, 2009   One year ago today, a 27-year old federal ban on offshore energy exploration and production in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was formally retired following an extraordinary outpouring of public support for expanded domestic energy production and relief from sky-high fuel prices. But while there is reason to celebrate the end of a policy that kept billions of barrels of American oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas under lock-and-key, it is clear that much more must be done to bring those resources to American consumers, which will create thousands of new jobs and help end our dangerous dependency on foreign energy.

Once the outer continental shelf (OCS) moratorium expired, the U.S. Interior Department began developing a new, significantly expanded offshore leasing program – with strong public support from the American people. In commemoration of the first anniversary of the lifting of the OCS moratorium, and in support of a new, robust 5-year plan, Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) president David Holt issued the following statement:

“The overwhelming public support for a new and expanded OCS leasing program – as shown by the more than 350,000 comments supporting an expanded OCS program that have been delivered to the Interior Department over the last eight months – demonstrates that the American people have not forgotten the record energy price spikes of 2008 and remain committed to responsible domestic energy production. Opening new offshore areas for energy exploration and production will create thousands of new jobs, provide substantial benefits for the American economy and strengthen our national energy security.”

“On behalf of the 200,000 grassroots members and 125 affiliates of Consumer Energy Alliance, I am calling on Secretary Salazar to listen to the hundreds of thousands of American citizens that have asked for expanded offshore access and to request that he move forward as expeditiously as possible with an expanded OCS leasing program for 2010-2015. A clear majority of the American public has spoken on this issue in support of a new, expanded program.”

CEA has participated in more than 100 events over the past three months calling for increased American energy production – and delivered approximately 150,000 comments last month to Interior Secretary Salazar supporting a new OCS leasing program.

Over the past several years, public comments to the Interior Department have overwhelmingly favored increased offshore energy production. During the 2006 period, 72 percent of comments received during four separate comment periods favored increased energy production offshore. In 2008, 53 percent backed domestic OCS energy exploration. And, although MMS has yet to release any numbers publicly, early indications are that favorable comments will once again lead groups who are opposed to sensible offshore development by a sizeable margin. American consumers once again voiced clear support for increased energy production.

NOTE: Bloomberg reported in April that:

The U.S. may have as many as 115 billion barrels of ‘technically recoverable’ oil in federal waters, a report today from the Interior Department found.  The report, prepared by Interior’s Minerals Management Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, also said the Outer Continental Shelf contains as much as 565 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and that the Pacific and Atlantic coasts hold more than 1,900 gigawatts of potential wind energy.”