On January 4, 2018, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a Draft Program Proposal for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024. According to the Interior Department’s news release on the proposal (Secretary Zinke Announces Plan For Unleashing America’s Offshore Oil and Gas Potential, 1/4/18), the draft program would “make over 90 percent of the total OCS acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development. By comparison, the current program puts 94 percent of the OCS off limits. In addition, the program proposes the largest number of lease sales in U.S. history.” The proposed program would allow three lease sales in the Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes waters off the coast of Virginia.
Following is an additional excerpt from the Interior Department news release:
“The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas – 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region. This is the largest number of lease sales ever proposed for the National OCS Program’s 5-year lease schedule.…
“Release of the DPP is an early step in a multi-year process to develop a final National OCS Program for 2019-2024. Today’s draft proposal was informed by approximately 816,000 comments from a wide variety of stakeholders, including state governments, federal agencies, public interest groups, industry, and the public. Before the program is finalized, the public will have additional opportunities to provide input. The 2017-2022 Five Year Program will continue to be implemented until the new National OCS Program is approved.…
“Inclusion of an area in the DPP is not a final indication that it will be included in the approved Program or offered in a lease sale, because many decision points still remain….
“The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior, through BOEM, to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales in federal waters, indicating the size, timing, and location of leasing activity that would best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following Program approval. In developing the National OCS Program, the Secretary is required to achieve an appropriate balance among the potential for environmental impacts, for discovery of oil and gas, and for adverse effects on the coastal zone. BOEM currently manages about 2,900 active OCS leases, covering almost 15.3 million acres – the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico. In fiscal year 2016, oil and gas leases on the OCS accounted for approximately 18 percent of domestic oil production and 4 percent of domestic natural gas production….
“The DPP proposes 9 lease sales in the Atlantic Region (3 sales each for the Mid- and South Atlantic, 2 for the North Atlantic, and 1 for the Straits of Florida). There have been no sales in the Atlantic since 1983 and there are no existing leases.
“NEXT STEPS: In conjunction with the announcement of the DPP, the Department is also publishing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Public meetings will be held around the country starting on January 16, 2018, to receive comments on the DPP and to inform the Draft Programmatic EIS. Specific dates, times, and venues will be posted on BOEM’s website at https://www.boem.gov/National-Program/. Using the information received from these public meetings, BOEM will prepare a Proposed Program (PP), which will be published for public comment, to be followed by a Proposed Final Program (PFP). In addition, the Department will prepare a Draft Programmatic EIS to be published concurrently with the PP, and a Final EIS with the PFP. The DPP and the NOI will be available for public comment for 60 days following the publication of the documents in the Federal Register.”
More information from the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program, including maps, is available online at https://www.boem.gov/National-Program/. The schedule of public meetings (Jan. 16-Mar. 8, 2018) on the 2019-2024 proposal is online at https://www.boem.gov/National-Program-Participate/.
Additional source for this post:
Virginia, North Carolina are back in play for offshore oil and gas drilling, Virginian-Pilot, 1/4/18.
Additional News Media Items on the 2019-2024 Proposed Program
Governor Northam Statement on Single Public Meeting in Virginia to Discuss Offshore Drilling Plan, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 2/21/18.
Feds reset 5-year plan, but oil recovery is a “15-year story,” Energywire, 1/5/18 (subscription required for access; trial subscription may be available).
Trump admin intends to roll back ban on offshore drilling, CNN, 1/4/18.
How Trump could vastly expand offshore drilling, PBS NewsHour, 1/4/18.
Previous Water Central News Grouper items on offshore oil and gas leasing are available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=offshore+oil+and+gas.
For historical information on the issue of offshore oil and gas in Virginia, going back at least to the 1970s, please see the following two articles in 2006 in the Virginia Water Central Newsletter, from the Virginia Water Resources Research Center:
“Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration Report,” February 2006, pp. 14-17, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/49344 (includes excerpts from Virginia’s 2006 “Study of the Possibility of Exploring for Natural Gas in the Coastal Areas of the Commonwealth”); and
“Eyes and Ayes on Off-shore Energy Exploration,” September 2006, pp. 1-4, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/49346.