Consumer Energy Alliance: Five Year Plan Lacks Vision to Lead U.S. to Energy Future
Falls short in expanding access, preparing U.S. for new energy challenges

HOUSTON – Today, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Boudreau announced the release of the Department of the Interior’s five year plan for leasing assets under the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas leasing program.  The plan, as outlined, would provide for fifteen lease sales in six offshore areas of production, all of which are areas that are currently under lease or exploration.  The plan would provide access to 5 area-wide lease sales in the western Gulf of Mexico in fall 2012, five area-wide lease sales in the central Gulf of Mexico in spring 2013 and two sales in the eastern Gulf of Mexico one in 2014 and the other in 2016.  The plan also includes sales in the Beaufort Sea in 2015 and the Chukchi Sea in 2016. Notably, the plan does not include the potential for lease sales in the Mid- and South-Atlantic, areas which were included in the Department’s previous five year plan.

In response, CEA president David Holt released the following:

“While the plan does provide for future lease sales, CEA is disappointed that the plan does not provide for new access, particularly in the Mid- and South-Atlantic.  While Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar indicated these areas were left out due to a perceived lack of safety preparedness, the Commonwealth of Virginia and its elected officials have indicated their interest and confidence that exploration and production can proceed there in a safe and responsible manner.  This strong, bi-partisan support from Governor McDonnell (R), Senators Webb (D) and Warner (D) and the Legislature have been ignored in this heavy-handed decision that leaves Virginians in the dark, unable to tap their vital resources and grow their economy until at least 2018.

Since this plan will effectively guide U.S. offshore development beyond 2020, we had hoped that this plan would have permitted for expanded access to explore new areas, areas that will be needed to advance our energy future, decrease our reliance on overseas oil and provide long-term, economic growth.”

The OCS Lands Act requires that the Secretary of the Interior prepare a five-year program that includes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales indicating the size, timing, and location of proposed leasing activity that the secretary determines will best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following its approval.

Today’s announcement starts a 90-day comment period on proposed plan and draft environmental impact statement (EIS). BOEM can then make whatever changes and adjustments to the draft EIS before issuing the proposed program and Final EIS. Congress then will review the plan for 60 days.