A robust group of 36 Republican Senators today sent a letter to Secretary Ryan Zinke in support of the Department of the Interior’s new Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Five-Year Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024. The plan promises to increase offshore access and development, which will in turn boost our economy, keep energy affordable, and reinforce the United States’ position as an energy dominant superpower.
“Pursuing a new Five-Year Program will provide a meaningful review to guarantee that the offshore leasing program contributes to U.S. energy dominance and to ensure some of the most prolific regions of the United States have not been arbitrarily excluded from competitive leasing,” the Senators wrote. “We encourage you to carefully review those areas that were not included in the 2017-2022 Five-Year Program to ensure that opportunities are not missed.”
A total of 94 percent of the federal OCS is currently unavailable for leasing. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the nation’s OCS contains 89.9 billion barrels of oil and 327.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
“Offshore development has undergone rapid technological innovation ensuring it is cheaper, safer, and provides access to previously out-of-reach areas,” the group wrote. “Offshore leasing benefits the economies of all of the states, helps reduce the federal deficit, provides affordable energy to families and businesses, and strengthens our national security.”
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which governs the development of the nation’s offshore energy resources, declares that “the outer Continental Shelf is a vital national resource reserve held by the Federal Government for the public, which should be made available for expeditious and orderly development, subject to environmental safeguards, in a manner which is consistent with the maintenance of competition and other national needs.”
“Offshore projects often have long lead times, so it is important to start today to make sure that the United States is planning for the future to maintain its steady and stable supply of production,” the Senators concluded. “We look forward to working with the Department of the Interior as you advance the new Five-Year Program.”
The letter, which was led by Sen. Murkowski, R-Alaska, was also signed by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala.; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.; Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.; Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.; Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.; Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.A copy of the letter can be found here.