Trump and Zinke open comment period for new offshore O&G leasing program

U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke have opened up a comment period for a new five-year national offshore oil and gas leasing program on the Outer Continental Shelf.

On Thursday, at an Energy Week event hosted by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, President Trump announced that the Secretary Zinke opened up the public comment period for the new program on the OCS.

President Trump said that the comment period is the first step in executing the new plan which was put in action by the April 28 executive order on American Energy.

The 2017-2022 Five Year Program, which is set to begin this summer, will continue to be executed until the new National OCS Program is complete.

Comments regarding the new program will be accepted until 45 days after the publication date which will be July 3.

Secretary Zinke said: “Offering more areas for energy exploration and responsible development was a cornerstone of the President’s campaign and this action is the first step in making good on that promise for offshore oil and gas.”

Acting Assistant Secretary, Kate MacGregor, said: “Under the last administration, 94% of the OCS was off-limits to responsible development, despite interest from state and local governments and industry leaders. The Trump Administration is dedicated to energy dominance, growing the economy and giving the public a say in how our natural resources are used, and that’s exactly what we are doing by opening up the Request for Information and a new five-year plan.”

Publication in the Federal Register of a Request for Information and Comments (RFI) on the Preparation of the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program is the initial step. Consistent with previous efforts, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will evaluate all 26 of the OCS planning areas during this first stage and is, therefore, requesting comments on all areas.

Secretary of the Interior will, through BOEM, prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales in federal waters, indicating the size, timing, and location of auctions that would best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following its approval.

BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank said: “The RFI considers all areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and provides an opportunity for interested parties to submit comments and suggestions about the potential for leasing and to identify environmental and other concerns and uses that may be affected by offshore leasing.”

BOEM seeks a wide array of input, including information on the economic, social, and environmental values of all OCS resources, as well as the potential impact of oil and gas exploration and development on other resource values of the OCS and the marine, coastal, and human environments.

Using the information received, BOEM will prepare a Draft Proposed Program, followed by a Proposed Program, and a Proposed Final Program. The current National OCS Program for 2017–2022 schedules 11 potential lease sales, ten of which are in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet of Alaska.

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