WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and 20 fellow Republican senators today sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urging her to expand development of oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico, and to open new areas offshore with great resource potential, including off the coast of Alaska and in the Atlantic Ocean in the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is in the early planning stages of developing its next five-year oil and gas leasing program, which includes requesting information and comments from states, local and tribal governments, Native American and Native Alaskan organizations, the oil and gas industry, and other interested parties to help the agency make informed decisions on the program’s design.
“With our allies under threat, our friends under attack, and our enemies on the move, continued exploration and production of energy from federal lands in the United States is absolutely vital,” the senators wrote to Jewell. “Our offshore resources, which the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 declares ‘should be made available for expeditious and orderly development,’ are critical to this effort.”
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the Interior Secretary to periodically update the agency’s offshore oil and gas leasing program. In their letter, the senators urge Jewell to “reconsider the administration’s disappointing decision not to include lease sales in the Atlantic region,” as well as to include lease sales in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort seas, and Cook Inlet.
“As the next program is finalized, please know that we will only support a leasing program that continues to develop in current exploration areas and includes new access in areas such as Alaska and the Atlantic regions,” the senators wrote.
The 20 Republican senators who co-signed the letter to Jewell: John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.).
The full letter can be read here.