Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) applauded the administration’s proposed final program of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
The 2017-2022 program, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, establishes a schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales that allow for the exploration and production of potential energy sources. The Proposed Final Program offers 11 potential lease sales in four planning areas – 10 sales in the portions of three Gulf of Mexico Program Areas that are not under moratorium and one sale off the coast of Alaska in the Cook Inlet Program Area.
“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.”
After today’s announcement, there is a 60-day period after which the Interior Secretary may approve the final 5-year leasing program. The plan offers 70 percent of economically recoverable resources for leasing while ensuring protection of critical areas, including the Arctic.
This week, Sen. Cantwell, along with Sens. Murray, Boxer, Feinstein, Wyden, Merkley, Markey and Wyden, wrote a letter urging President Obama to permanently withdraw the West Coast from consideration of new oil and gas leasing. In the letter, the senators called on the administration to protect the coastal economies of California, Oregon and Washington by prohibiting new lease sales. Collectively, their economies are worth $44 billion annually and support approximately 650,000 jobs.
Earlier this year at a hearing, Sen. Cantwell applauded the decision to remove the Atlantic region, saying “I believe the Atlantic region was rightfully removed from the program due to strong local opposition, conflicts with other ocean uses and market dynamics.”