GOP Senators seek to nix Salazar's OCS plan delay

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 5 -- Three US Senate Republicans asked US President Barack H. Obama on Mar. 2 to expeditiously complete development of the 5-year Outer Continental Shelf plan, which US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has delayed.

"In addition to improved energy efficiency and the development of renewable resources, tapping new domestic sources of conventional energy will help relieve stress on family budgets, put Americans to work, and free us from dangerous and unstable foreign regimes," Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Tex.), Lisa Murkowski (Alas.), and Christopher S. Bond (Mo.) said in a letter to the president.

"To achieve these substantial benefits, we urge you to limit any delay and complete as expeditiously as possible your administration's five-year plan for offshore oil and gas development," they continued.

Salazar announced on Feb. 10 that he was delaying the 5-year OCS plan which his predecessor, Dirk A. Kempthorne, launched the previous summer because it was "a headlong rush of the worst kind." Kempthorne said at the time that he was beginning the process 2 years early because crude oil prices had broken records a few weeks earlier.

"The federal government is responsible for the prudent stewardship of the natural resources that lie beneath our public lands and the OCS. Failure to utilize these valuable resources has left America overly dependent on foreign countries and threatened our energy, economic, and national security. We can no longer continue on this unsustainable path of self-imposed debility," the three GOP senators said in their letter.

"Decades of experience with modern drilling technology show that it is possible to balance the production of domestic resources and the protection of our environment. An affirmative decision by you not to reinstate the presidential moratorium on US offshore oil production, along with your leadership in delivering a new offshore drilling plan in an expeditious manner, will benefit all Americans," they continued.

The trio also asked Obama to continue the practice of sharing revenue with producing states to assure that they receive a fair share of royalties and maximize the resources brought to market. Twenty-eight other Senate Republicans, including Ranking Minority Member Mitch McConnell (Ky.), added their signatures to the letter.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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