WASHINGTON, DC, Dec. 8 -- US Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) called for discussion of expanded leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf, including areas currently off-limits, to address increasingly tight supplies of natural gas.
In a letter to Sec. of the Interior Gale Norton, the two federal lawmakers recommended that comments be solicited on whether it would be appropriate to widen OCS leasing, including possibly issuing gas-only leases in areas covered by moratoria.
The Department of the Interior opened a public comment period, beginning this month, on its 5-year OCS oil and gas leasing program for 2007-12, Alexander and Landrieu noted.
They released their letter the day after Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) called for legislative proposals to solve a looming gas-supply crisis.
He invited industry and government officials, public interest groups, and private citizens to submit written proposals to the committee by Jan. 7, 2005, for staff review. The most promising ideas will be discussed at a half-day meeting tentatively scheduled for Jan. 19, Domenici said.
"We encourage the use of natural gas in America to meet our energy needs and environmental goals," said Alexander, who chairs the committee's energy subcommittee, as he and Landrieu released copies of their letter to Norton. "However, we have ignored the supply side of the equation. We have pursued a policy that is in conflict with itself."
"The energy supply imbalance our country faces has not happened overnight, and the solution will not be quick or simple," said Landrieu, who also is a member of the full committee and comes from a major producing state. "For years, our country has encouraged the use of natural gas but neglected to adequately address how to meet that goal."
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