US invites public comment on upcoming offshore oil and gas leasing plans

The US Department of the Interior has issued the proposed program for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for years 2023 to 2028.

“This is the second step in a three-step planning process to determine whether or how many offshore oil and gas lease sales to hold over the next five years,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The proposed plan puts forward several options from no lease sales up to 11 lease sales. Like the current program, it removes from consideration the federal waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, while inviting public comment on 10 potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet off south-central Alaska.”

A proposed program is not a decision to issue specific leases or to authorize any drilling or development.

“From Day One,” said Haaland, “President Biden and I have made clear our commitment to transition to a clean-energy economy. Today, we put forward an opportunity for the American people to consider and provide input on the future of offshore oil and gas leasing. The time for the public to weigh in on our future is now.”

Release of the proposed program follows the 2018 publication of the draft proposed program (DPP) and is the second of three required steps before the Secretary of the Interior can approve the final program.

Following publication in the Federal Register, the Interior Department will seek public comment on the proposed program and the accompanying draft programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS).

The DPP released in 2018 by the Trump administration proposed 47 lease sales across 25 of 26 OCS planning areas. Under the proposed program announced last week, the Secretary significantly narrowed the area considered for leasing to the Gulf of Mexico and Cook Inlet, where there is existing production and infrastructure.

Inclusion of an area or a potential lease sale in the proposed program does not mean that it will be included in the final National OCS Program. However, any area or sale not included in the proposed program will not be considered for inclusion in the final 2023–2028 National OCS Program.

Following publication of the DPP, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) considered more than 2m comments from the public and stakeholders, including governors, federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies, energy and non-energy industries, Tribal governments, non-governmental organizations including environmental advocacy groups, and the public.

Following this opportunity for public comment, BOEM will prepare a proposed final program and final PEIS, which will include analysis of the size, timing, location and number of potential lease sales in the proposed program. Those may be further narrowed or areas could be excluded. There is then a minimum 60-day period before the Secretary can approve the program and finalize the record of decision.  

Kim Biggar

Kim Biggar started writing in the supply chain sector in 2000, when she joined the Canadian Association of Supply Chain & Logistics Management. In 2004/2005, she was project manager for the Government of Canada-funded Canadian Logistics Skills Committee, which led to her 13-year role as communications manager of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council. A longtime freelance writer, Kim has contributed to publications including The Forwarder, 3PL Americas, The Shipper Advocate and Supply Chain Canada.
Back to top button