Senator asks Defense secretary for thoughts on OCS plan

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 12 -- US Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) asked US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates for his reaction to US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s plan to expand federal oil and gas leasing in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

“We’ve talked many times about the value of the joint military training environment in the eastern [gulf],” Nelson said in an Apr. 8 letter to Gates. “In essence, you have told me the Department of Defense believes the areas east of the Military Mission Line in the [gulf] were critical to pilot and other personnel training and the testing of increasingly sophisticated weapons systems.”

That view was consistent with one which Gates’ predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, expressed in a 2005 letter “in which he wrote that drilling in this area of the gulf was incompatible with the military’s mission,” the senator said.

Nelson told Gates that the Obama administration’s Mar. 31 announcement of a new US Outer Continental Shelf strategy include a proposal to open more of the eastern gulf within the military training range. “In light of this, I’d like to meet with you to hear your views on how the proposal squares with the needs of the military,” he said.

Nelson said Congress would have to amend the 2006 law that he and his then-US Senate colleague from Florida, Republican Mel Martinez, supported to protect the military range and the state’s coastal tourism while increasing domestic oil and gas production.

“So far, I’ve managed to get the [Interior department] to keep any proposed exploration beyond 125 miles off Florida’s gulf coast to protect the state’s tourism-driven economy and its environment,” said Nelson. “We in Florida also need to make sure the Atlantic coast has adequate protections.”

‘With sensitivity’
Salazar said on Mar. 31 that his plan to expand federal leasing in the eastern gulf would require congressional removal of a moratorium. “My determination to draw the potential line for where we drill in the eastern gulf is based on where we believe the resources are. We believe most of it is more than 125 miles off the coast, and that it can be developed with sensitivity to the needs of businesses there and military training needs,” he told reporters.

Sen. George S. LeMieux (R-Fla.), whom Florida Gov. Charlie Crist appointed on Aug. 28, 2009, to complete Martinez’s term after he resigned, said on Mar. 31 that “safe and clean technologies used far enough from our shores is a proposal worth considering, but only if Florida’s interests are protected and we benefit from the proceeds just like other states.” Considerations must include protection of the state’s pristine beaches and the military’s training needs in the gulf, he added.

Some US House members from Florida expressed strong opposition to Salazar’s proposal. Democrat Corinne Brown said on Apr. 1 that drilling for oil anywhere near the state’s coast, even if it is 125 miles offshore, could devastate its tourist industry. “Additionally, the president’s plan would allow drilling just 50 miles off the coast of Virginia; certainly, if this were translated to Florida’s coasts, it would have dire consequences for the state,” she said.

“Drilling for oil off of Florida’s west coast beaches would be a serious threat to our economy and jobs,” said Kathy Castor, another Democrat, while a third, Alcee L. Hastings, said that the nation’s economic future depends on the country being at the forefront of the next generation of sustainable energy. “Instead, this proposal is more of the same and is leaving us even further behind the technological curve,” he said.

Republican Ander Crenshaw was more favorable. “We have to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil. That’s why I think drilling offshore makes sense,” he said in a television interview posted at his web site. “As long as it doesn’t interrupt military training and is done in an environmentally sensitive way, I think that’s the way to go.”

In his letter, Nelson told Gates that he has made clear to Salazar that he is waiting to hear from the Defense secretary on whether expanding eastern gulf oil and gas leasing “poses a risky commercial intrusion into the last unfettered training range for our military,” adding, “I look forward to meeting with you soonest on this important matter.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

Courts less deferential to regulatory agencies, GMU forum told

07/08/2015 US Supreme Court decisions in the recently completed term suggest that judicial deference to federal regulatory agencies is starting to recede, spe...

AER orders Apache Canada to address integrity of pipeline system

07/08/2015 Alberta Energy Regulator has directed Apache Canada Ltd. to address the integrity of its pipeline management system because of “failure to follow p...

API releases pipeline safety recommended practice

07/08/2015 The American Petroleum Institute released a pipeline safety recommended practice that it developed with engagement from the US Pipeline and Hazardo...

MARKET WATCH: Brent oil prices climb; NYMEX oil price holds below $53/bbl

07/08/2015 US light, sweet crude oil prices settled slightly lower on the New York market July 7 to remain under $53/bbl as Brent crude oil prices gained mode...

EIA: US oil output fell 50,000 b/d in May

07/07/2015 Total US crude oil production dropped 50,000 b/d in May compared with April and is expected to continue falling through early 2016 before growth re...

BLM approves ROW for Elko gas pipeline expansion project

07/07/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Tuscarora, Nev., field office signed a decision record approving a right-of-way for Paiute Pipeline Co.’s (PPC) ...

Obama urged by IPAA president to lift ban on US crude exports

07/07/2015 Commending the administration for its actions allowing some condensate to be exported as a petroleum product, Independent Petroleum Association of ...

AER shuts in 16 Murphy Oil sites in Peace River region for noncompliance

07/07/2015 Alberta Energy Regulator said it has shut in or partially shut in 16 sites operated by Murphy Oil Co. Ltd. in the Peace River region. The sites wer...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent oil prices take dive on world oil oversupply concerns

07/07/2015 US light, sweet crude oil prices plummeted more than $4/bbl on the New York market July 6, marking a 5-month low, while Brent crude oil prices on t...
White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

When Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors

register:WEBCAST


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

register:WEBCAST


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected