In an earlier posting I discussed how I was looking forward with cautious optimism toward how our new Secretary of the Interior would act following the expiration of the decades old ban on oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Secretary Ken Salazar could have come out in favor of reinstating the OCS leasing bans or he could have scrapped the proposed 2010-2015 OCS Oil & Gas Leasing Plan and started over with a new plan.
But he did neither and instead has announced an extension of the comment period for the proposed new plan and a major effort to learn as much as possible about the energy potential of the federal OCS.
At a press conference on February 10, Secretary Salazar announced his strategy for developing an offshore energy plan that includes both conventional and renewable resources. His strategy includes expediting renewable energy rulemaking for the OCS, assembling a detailed report from Interior agencies on conventional and renewable offshore energy resources and holding, within 30 days of the report’s publication, four regional conferences to review the report’s findings and to seek public comment.
Secretary Salazar will host one meeting in Alaska, one on the Pacific Coast, one on the Atlantic Coast and one on the Gulf Coast (dates and locations TBD.) He has also, as mentioned, extended the comment period on the proposed new 5-Year Plan for oil and gas leasing on the OCS by 180 days, until September 23, 2009. As you may know, one of the last action’s of the Bush Administration was the issuance of a proposed new 5-Year OCS oil and gas leasing plan to run from 2010 till 2015. The proposed plan included a deadline for public comment of March 23.
The Secretary’s action extends that deadline by six months. A copy of the statement from the Department of the Interior can be found here.
I think our Interior Secretary is taking a very objective approach to the OCS and I am encouraged. Secretary Salazar has said that he wants all interested parties to share their recommendations on how to move ahead with a comprehensive offshore energy plan. In that regard, AGA will be commenting on the plan and I urge you to be thinking about sending in comments as well and/or attending and speaking out at one of the upcoming regional conferences.