5 May 2007 - 10:53
  • News Code: 103838

US Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas development opponents complained that the Department of the Interior and Minerals Management Service"s preliminary final 5-year OCS plan goes too far, while proponents declared that it doesn"t go far enough.

They reacted soon after the Apr. 30 joint announcement that 21 OCS oil and gas lease sales are scheduled in eight planning areas from July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2012 (OGJ Online, Apr. 30, 2007). The proposed leasing includes new acreage in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, in the Bristol Bay area off Alaska, and off southeastern Virginia.

 

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) pledged to use his seats on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and Natural Resources Committee to block as much of the leasing as possible.

 

"The plan is short-sighted and will have dramatic repercussions for many years to come. In exchange for making small profits off oil and gas drilling leases while providing its friends in Big Oil with new sources of income, the Bush administration is giving the green light to permanently scarring the environment and ecosystems of these areas, especially Bristol Bay," he declared on Apr. 30.

 

But Rep. John E. Peterson (R-Pa.), who also sits on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, said the preliminary final plan (PFP) "paradoxically extols the benefits of OCS energy production, while at the same time recognizing the president must lift his moratorium for this to become a reality."

 

He criticized President George W. Bush for not immediately removing the OCS withdrawals enacted by President George H.W. Bush and extended by President Bill Clinton. Peterson said he would work to lift congressional OCS leasing bans, which must be renewed annually.

 

Association reactions

The American Petroleum Institute said in an Apr. 30 statement that it was encouraged by the inclusion of new OCS areas off Alaska and Virginia in the PFP, but added that some 80% of the federal OCS containing an estimated 18.9 billion bbl of oil and 85.9 tcf of gas remain off-limits.

 

API said, "This is enough oil to heat 9 million homes and power 20 million cars for 30 years and enough gas to heat 37 million homes for 30 years. Despite anticipated "robust growth" in renewables between 2007 and 2030, the US Energy Information Administration projects an increase in oil consumption of nearly 30% and of natural gas consumption of nearly 19% over the same period. The rich energy resources now locked up off our coasts will clearly be needed."

 

Independent Petroleum Association of America Pres. Barry Russell said the PFP is a positive step as he also called for removals of the presidential withdrawals and congressional moratoria.

 

"The fact that 75% of the comments MMS received from the public supported some level of increased access to the American energy resources in the OCS should serve as a wake-up call for Congress to discontinue its antiquated policies toward energy development and support the administration"s effort to make American natural resources available to American consumers," he said on Apr. 30.

 

National Association of Manufacturers Pres. John Engler also called for increased access to the OCS, as well as more investment and research in energy efficiency, on Apr. 30 in response to the PFP.

 

"Manufacturing requires adequate and affordable energy prices—to fuel factories, ship products, and manufacture consumer goods. Historically high energy rates and rising consumer demands are crippling manufacturers, large and small, facing fierce global competition. It"s in the best interest of our nation, our manufacturers and our consumers to lay a sound foundation of energy sustainability," he said.

 

PIN/OGJ.COM

News Code 103838

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