CEA Submits Comments for New Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Plan
Expanded access would create jobs, reduce energy prices

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) for its Draft Programmatic Environment Impact Statement for the Proposed 2012-2017 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Plan, also known as the “Five Year Plan.” CEA urges DOI to expand offshore lease sales and ensure timely approval for existing permit applications.

The proposed plan includes 15 potential lease sales: 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska, both of which currently have active leases and exploration. The plan, however, does not include lease sales in the Mid and South Atlantic states, and provides little or no assurance that current lease holders in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Alaska will be issued the proper permits to explore for available oil and gas resources.

In response, CEA President David Holt issued the following statement:

“Although the decision to hold a lease sale for offshore energy development is a positive step on the part of the Administration, the proposed Five Year Plan simply leaves too much of America’s vast resources off the table. The fact that the proposed plan keeps off-limits the promising resources in the Atlantic OCS is particularly troubling, especially considering that Virginia’s delegation to the U.S. Senate – Senators Mark Warner (D) and Jim Webb (D) – have proposed legislation to move forward with responsible exploration and development of that state’s coast.

“In addition, companies like Shell have been prevented from exploring its leasing holdings in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of Alaska due to administrative delays and legal interventions, obstacles that the proposed plan does not address. Offshore Alaska has an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil, resources that, if developed, could create more than 54,000 new jobs. Other companies are facing similar permitting delays in the Gulf of Mexico. If the Administration returned to the permitting levels that preceded the Macondo incident in April of 2010, it would create 230,000 new American jobs by next year.

“America needs an energy policy that recognizes the importance of all forms of energy, from renewables to our vast oil and gas resources offshore, and everything in between. Instead of imposing arbitrary limitations on American oil and gas development, the Administration should increase access to all available supplies, which in turn would reduce energy prices for consumers and create hundreds of thousands of much-needed jobs.”

DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is holding more than a dozen public hearings over the next two weeks in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska to gather input from the public on the proposed plan’s environmental impacts.