National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Randall Luthi issued a statement on the 2017-2022 Draft Proposed OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, stating the U.S. Department of the Interior’s draft offshore oil and gas leasing program adds Atlantic opportunities, but misses others.
“The National Ocean Industries Association
is pleased that the Department of the Interior has released the 2017-2022 draft proposed offshore oil and natural gas leasing program but expresses concern over its unnecessary and counterproductive limits that may jeopardize America’s long term energy security
. Our members are encouraged by the decision to further analyze the mid and south Atlantic areas, which have not been included in a leasing program for over two generations. In fact, over 85 percent of the outer continental shelf has been shuttered to exploration for decades, so the consideration of new areas in the Atlantic is a step in the right direction. However, we remain disappointed that more areas that are currently off-limits were taken off the table for consideration as part of this five-year program, and that the total number of lease sales has been reduced from the previous program rather than increased. We are also concerned by additional restrictions in the plan, like the 50 mile buffer zone off the Atlantic.
“Opening America’s OCS for energy development could provide substantial benefits to all Americans. A recent study shows that by opening the Atlantic, Pacific, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico, America could, by 2035, create more than 838,000 jobs annually, spur nearly $449 billion in new private sector spending, generate more than $200 billion in new revenue for the government, contribute more than $70 billion per year to the U.S. economy, and add more than 3.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day to domestic energy production. Other nations, including Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Norway, Greenland, Brazil and Ghana, have recognized the energy and economic opportunities off their own shores and are exploring new offshore areas.
“While other countries are moving ahead, it is disappointing that the Administration is not taking this opportunity to include additional OCS areas in their draft plan. For example, while it is gratifying to see sales considered off the coast of Alaska, the Administration’s plan for the Alaska offshore continues to hobble the people of Alaska and the overall energy portfolio of the United States. Instead of a robust plan for potential development in an area that holds immense resource potential, the plan actually reduces the areas available for further analysis. This is a political plan, not a plan based on science and resource data. While the certainty of sales is a small step forward, removing Alaska’s opportunity to recognize its resource potential is a giant leap backward that also unnecessarily restricts America’s ability to become more energy sufficient and to firmly establish leadership in the world energy arena.
“Likewise, the omission of the rest of the Atlantic, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific also demonstrates a continued lack of long term vision for energy security and reliability. The Eastern Gulf of Mexico is a logical area for new exploration and development since there is already industry and infrastructure in the rest of the gulf. Additionally, technology now provides methods for exploration out of the view shed, a concern of many Floridians. The draft proposed program could have been much more robust had it included further analysis of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico with the caveat that should Congress lift the exploration ban before 2022, new areas could be included in a 2017–2022 leasing schedule. Nova Scotia and New Foundland have been developing in the Atlantic for years, but the U.S. will continue to turn a blind eye to what potential might be off our own northern Atlantic shore. As for the Pacific, it has been a source of oil for generations, but without the ability to look in new areas and purchase new leases there, that source will continue to dry up.
“For decades in the Gulf of Mexico and other places around the world, energy development, conservation efforts, and other industries -- be it tourism, commercial or recreational fishing, or others -- have not only coexisted, but thrived alongside each other; to purport that restrictions like those included in the draft plan are necessary for protecting vital resources and existing industries is misleading at best.
“It is important to note that this is not a partisan issue. House and Senate Democrats and Republicans and the vast majority of the American public
have stated their support for the safe exploration and production of America's offshore energy resources. The oil and natural gas industry is a huge driver of our economy and is vital to our long term energy security, and opening new offshore areas for exploration and possible development will greatly enhance both.
“Despite the opportunities it misses, the draft proposed program is a small step in the right direction. NOIA and our members look forward to participating in the commenting and hearing process.”