On the other hand, U.S. senator from Washington Maria Cantwell, who is Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Murkowski, applauded the administration’s proposed final program of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
“I appreciate that the Interior Department considered the greater risk posed while operating in dynamic and challenging offshore environments in choosing to remove future leasing in the Arctic,” Sen. Cantwell said. “We need to ensure that we can drill safely and respond to spills before exploration moves forward in ecologically sensitive areas.”
New approach for Gulf of Mexico
While the focus has been on the Arctic exclusion, it’s worth noting that there have been some changes in the Gulf of Mexico plans, as well.
As previously proposed, the Proposed Final Program includes 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico, however, the program adopts a new approach to lease sales by offering two annual lease sales for the entire Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico acreage not under moratorium. This is a shift from the traditional approach of one sale per year in each of the Western Gulf and the Central Gulf and periodic sales in the Eastern Gulf.
The department said these changes would provide greater flexibility for investment in the Gulf.
As for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the U.S., these have been, as expected left out of the proposed lease sale plan, in line with the earlier proposed program.
Interior Department says Atlantic is off limits due to current market dynamics, strong local opposition and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses, and the Pacific is not available for lease sales due to the”the long-standing position of the Pacific coast states in opposition to oil and gas development off their coasts.”
Offshore Energy Today Staff