CEA president: Senior members from both parties are watching closely

WASHINGTONMarch 29, 2010   The U.S. Department of the Interior needs to pick up the pace in completing its work on behalf of American taxpayers and energy consumers, two senior Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee charged last week – and it can start by finishing its court-ordered technical analysis of areas off the coast of Alaska, now more than a month overdue.

Subsequent to the letter being sent to Interior secretary Ken Salazar by Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), co-chair of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, and Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), chairman of the Natural Resources subcommittee on energy and mineral resources, Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) president David Holt issued the following statement:

“Certainly no one would fault the Interior Department for taking its time to gather all the facts before setting in motion a plan to leverage our nation’s abundant offshore energy resources into new and much-needed economic opportunity for Americans. But eventually, there comes a time to act. This letter from Chairmen Costa and Boren will hopefully serve as a reminder to the Department that critical work remains to be done on behalf of the American people in this area, and further, that senior House members from both parties on the committee of jurisdiction are watching closely.”

On Feb. 26, the Interior Department informed the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the agency would not be able to meet its deadline for completing its court-ordered review of the Alaska portion of the 2007-2012 five-year national energy plan, suggesting that, “despite its best efforts,” it couldn’t finish what most still consider a straightforward analysis. More than 10 months have elapsed since a court asked Interior to take a second look at leasing considerations along the Alaska outer continental shelf (OCS).

The continued delay in finalizing the Alaska technical corrections was cited explicitly by Reps. Boren and Costa. “[T]en months have passed since the program was vacated, which is surprising considering several public statements from Administration officials have been made acknowledging that the new environmental analysis would be completed expeditiously and issued in 2009.”

The members also made clear the economic implications for their constituents of further delays and missed deadlines. “New offshore oil and gas development in Alaska would also generate millions of new, high-paying jobs throughout the 50 states, including steel and pipe manufacturers in the Midwest, shipping on the coasts, advanced computer technology in California and Seattle, and union labor for pipeline construction and maintenance.”

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded here.