Expand OCS access for oil and gas, Senate Republicans urge Jewell

Twenty-one Republican US senators, led by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Minority Member Lisa Murkowski (Alas.), asked US Sec. of the Interior Sally Jewell to consider opening more of the US Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration and production in the next 5-year program.

“As you proceed with planning the 2017-22 program, we urge you to reconsider the administration’s disappointing decision not to include lease sales in the Atlantic region in the current program, contrary to the original vision for OCS development during this period,” they said in the Aug. 7 letter to the secretary.

In addition to areas in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, which are open for leasing already, the senators recommended that the next program include sales in the Atlantic, the Atlantic Ocean, and Cook Inlet in Alaska, and retain area-wide leasing.

“Shifting to targeted lease sales in Alaska or elsewhere could prematurely preclude access to and development of vital oil and gas resources,” they warned.

“We must not return to the constrained vision of the past wherein America’s resources remain untapped just off our coastline,” the senators asserted. “As the next program is finalized, please know that we will support only a leasing program that continues to develop in current exploration areas, and includes new access in areas such as Alaska and the Atlantic regions.”

Their letter came more than a week after four Senate Democrats sent a similar letter to Jewell calling for expanded leasing in the 2017-22 OCS program which the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is developing (OGJ Online, Aug. 1, 2014).

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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