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Administration Takes First Step Towards Offshore Expansion

47 new coastal lease areas would be made available

January 05, 2018

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the administration's plans to make 90 percent of the nation's offshore acreage available for development with the release of its Draft Proposed Program (DPP) outlining intentions for energy expansion over the next five years.

In the statement posted on Twitter by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the agency will create a National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) to make over 90 percent of the total OCS acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said all most all of the U.S. outer continental shelf - areas off the coasts of Maine, California, Alaska, and Florida - is being looked at for near-future oil and natural gas drilling.

The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas – 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region between 2019 and 2024.

The only areas not being considered are Bristol Bay in Alaska, existing marine sanctuaries, and areas around Hawaii and U.S. territories.

Release of the DPP is an early step in a multi-year process to develop a final National OCS Program for 2019-2024. Before the program is finalized, the public will have additional opportunities to provide input. The 2017-2022 Five Year Program will continue to be implemented until the new National OCS Program is approved.

Inclusion of an area in the DPP is not a final indication that it will be included in the approved program or offered in a lease sale, because many decision points still remain.

By proposing to open these areas for consideration, Zinke will receive public input and analysis on all of the available OCS to better inform future decisions on the National OCS Program.

Before any individual lease is sold, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will continue to incorporate new scientific information and stakeholder feedback in its reviews to further refine the geographic scope of the lease areas.

Proposed Lease Areas

Gulf of Mexico - 12 lease sales: The draft proposal continues the current approach to lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico by proposing 10 biannual lease sales in those areas of the Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico that are not subject to Congressional moratorium or otherwise unavailable, and two sales in the portions of the Eastern and Central Gulf of Mexico after the expiration of the Congressional moratorium in 2022.

Alaska - 19 lease sales: 3 in the Chukchi Sea, 3 in the Beaufort Sea, 2 in Cook Inlet, and 1 sale each in 11 other program areas in Alaska. These 11 program areas consist of the Gulf of Alaska, Kodiak, Shumagin, Aleutian Arc, St. George Basin, Bowers Basin, Aleutian Basin, Navarin Basin, St. Matthew-Hall, Norton Basin, and Hope Basin.

Pacific - 7 lease sales: 2 each for Northern California, Central California, and Southern California, and 1 for Washington/Oregon

Atlantic - 9 lease sales: 3 sales each for the Mid- and South Atlantic, 2 for the North Atlantic, and 1 for the Straits of Florida

The proposal will be open for comment for 60 days following its posting in the Federal Register on January 9, 2018.

For general maps of proposed lease areas, click here. The entire draft proposal and supporting maps are available here.

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