House members urge ocean policy task force not to restrict OCS development

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 28 -- Proposals in an interim report by the Obama administration’s Inter-Agency Ocean Policy Task Force must not interfere with the nation’s ability to safely develop its offshore resources, 68 US House members said on Oct. 26.

It is critical that the task force’s proposals do not inhibit offshore energy activity and undermine the US Minerals Management Service’s 5-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing program, the 61 Republicans and 7 Democrats said in a letter to Nancy Sutley, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s task force.

“An ocean management policy that puts new restrictions on energy development would not only raise prices for consumers, but would negatively impact Americans working in the offshore energy industry and all Americans whose livelihood depends on access to affordable energy,” the letter said.

“On the whole, this report reflects an ideology that is at odds with American energy independence and job creation in the energy economy,” said Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a Natural Resources Committee member who led the effort. “Responsible stewardship of our oceans and the responsible use of ocean resources are not conflicting aims. We don’t have to choose one over the other.”

“As the task force works to develop its final recommendations, [it] must recognize the importance of maintaining the multiple uses of our oceans,” added Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the committee’s ranking minority member. “Members from both sides of the aisle will strongly oppose any efforts by the administration to use this report as means of establishing a backdoor moratorium on offshore energy development.”

Meanwhile, American Solutions for Winning the Future, a citizen action group involved in energy, economic, education, and science and technology issues, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with MMS for documents pertaining to tabulated results from the recent public comments on the US Department of the Interior agency’s proposed 5-year OCS plan.

Sources have indicated that MMS staff members have confirmed that the comments have been tabulated internally and that comments in support of offshore oil and gas leasing outnumber antidrilling comments by two to one. “As of this writing, there has not been a public announcement of these final results,” the group said. “American Solutions alone delivered 90,358 prodrilling comments, one of the largest sums for a single organization.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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