Interior Department Initiates New Five Year Oil and Gas Leasing Program for Outer Continental Shelf

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by U.S. Department of the Interior News

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Saying the nation's energy situation has dramatically changed in the past year, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today jumpstarted the development of a new oil and natural gas leasing program for the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.  The action could give the next administration a two-year head start in expanding energy production from federal offshore jurisdictions, including some areas where a congressional ban had prevented oil and gas development.

"When our current five-year program for Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing was launched in July 2007, oil was selling for $64 a barrel," Kempthorne said.  "Today a barrel of oil costs more than $120, almost double the price a year ago. Clearly, today's escalating energy prices and the widening gap between U.S. energy consumption and supply have changed the fundamental assumptions on which many of our decisions were based."

 "Areas that were considered too expensive to develop a year ago are no longer necessarily out of reach based on improvements to technology and safety," Kempthorne noted.  "The American people and the President want action and this initiative can accelerate an offshore exploration and development program that can increase production from additional domestic energy resources."

President Bush lifted the Executive Withdrawal on oil and gas leasing operations on the Outer Continental Shelf on July 14, calling on Congress to lift its ban that has been in place since 1982.  He also urged Congress to enact legislation that would allow states to have a say regarding operations off their shores and to share in the resulting revenues.  

"The President believes coastal states should have a voice in how Outer Continental Shelf resources are developed off their shores while ensuring those environments are protected. Also, Congress should provide a way for the federal government and states to participate in revenue sharing from those new leases," Kempthorne said.

Because of the current energy situation and the President's action, Secretary Kempthorne has directed the Minerals Management Service to begin the initial steps for developing a new five-year program that accurately reflects the nation's needs.  The multi-year process starts with a call for information from all parties on what a new five-year program should consider.  MMS is also requesting comment to ensure that all interests and concerns are considered regarding oil and gas leasing and exploration and development resulting from a new five-year program. The governors of all 50 states will be specifically asked for their comments, particularly on issues unique to each state.

Read the rest of this piece at Minerals Management Service



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