Resource Development Council

RDC Action Alert:
Proposed 2012-2017 Five-Year Plan for
Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program

RDC Testimony - February 25, 2011
RDC Comment Letter - June 30, 2010

Comment deadline was March 31, 2011


The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) provided notice in April 2010 of its intent to prepare a Programmatic EIS for the proposed OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 and request for comments. The notice also announced that scoping meetings would be held during June and July in coastal states, including Alaska. Subsequently, on June 30, 2010, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced that the scoping meetings would be postponed because of the need for BOEMRE to focus on reviewing and evaluating safety and environmental requirements of offshore drilling in response to the Deepwater Horizon incident and that a new comment period would later be announced.

On December 1, 2010, the Secretary announced an updated oil and gas leasing strategy for the OCS. The new strategy will focus on leasing in areas with current active leases. As a result, the Western Gulf of Mexico, Central Gulf of Mexico, and the Cook Inlet, Chukchi Sea, and Beaufort Sea will continue to be considered for potential leasing in the 2012-2017 Program. However, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Mid and South Atlantic planning areas are no longer under consideration for potential lease sales in the five-year program.

Alaska has significant OCS opportunities in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. This public hearing will gauge public opinion in Alaska on the development of offshore oil and gas resources. This is an important hearing and could well determine Alaska’s economic course for decades to come. Economic studies have confirmed OCS development has the potential to sustain Alaska's economy for generations.

Action requested:

RDC members were strongly encouraged to attend the Anchorage hearing, which was be held Friday, February 25 at BOEMRE Regional Offices, 3801 Centerpoint Drive, Conference Room at 7 p.m. Tell Washington that you support expanded future offshore leasing in Alaska.

The comment deadline is March 31, 2011. All comments received during the public comment period that closed on June 30 and all comments received during the new comment period will be considered by BOEMRE. Even if you provided written comments last summer on the Plan, please submit a comment letter by March 31, 2011.

Join us in our effort as we build public support for offshore oil & gas exploration and development. For those who do not have the time to draft their own comments, feel free to use the sample text at the link below:

Public Meeting:

Anchorage - February 25, 7:00 p.m.
BOEMRE Regional Offices
3801 Centerpoint Drive, Conference Room

How to comment:

Online Submittal:

Mr. J.F. Bennett
Chief Branch of Environmental Assessment
381 Elden Street, Mail Stop 4042
Herndon, Virginia 20170-4817

Comment deadline was March 31, 2011

Points to consider in your comments or verbal testimony:

  • Urge the BOEMRE to ensure the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed 2012-2017 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Leasing Program moves forward in an efficient manner and that it does not further exclude areas offshore Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico from responsible oil and gas development.
  • In establishing a robust 2012-2017 OCS oil and gas leasing program, the BOEMRE must balance environmental and economic considerations and ultimately decide to move forward with responsible offshore oil and gas development. Exploration and production can and should proceed in a safe manner.
  • The Alaska OCS constitutes one of the world’s largest untapped energy resources with an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place. By comparison, total production from the North Slope since 1977 has been approximately 15.5 billion barrels. Essentially, Alaska holds the eighth largest oil reserves in the world ahead of Nigeria, Libya, Russia and Norway.
  • The Chukchi Sea is considered the nation’s most prolific, unexplored offshore basin in North America.
  • The Alaska OCS could produce 1 to 2 million barrels per day, boosting current U.S. production by 20 to 40 percent. At today’s oil prices of $90 a barrel, slashing imports that much would reduce the nation’s trade deficit up to $65.7 billion a year. Last year, when oil averaged $78 a barrel, the U.S. sent $260 billion overseas for crude, accounting for nearly half of the country’s $500 billion trade deficit.
  • BOEMRE should not hold lease sales unless it truly intends to allow exploration in a reasonable and timely manner. In February 2008, lease sale 193 on tracts in the Chukchi Sea netted taxpayers more than $2.6 billion in bonus bids. However, companies seeking to drill on those tracts have been unable to drill due to numerous regulatory and permitting delays. Companies spending billions of dollars on leases and subsequent billion of dollars preparing to drill should be able to move forward in an efficient, responsible, safe, and certain manner.
  • The responsible development of potentially immense oil and gas deposits in the Arctic would significantly boost Alaska’s economy, extend the life of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, improve the economic viability of the proposed natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48, reduce America’s reliance on foreign energy, create tens of thousands of new jobs and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal, state and local government revenues.
  • According to a new study by Northern Economics and the University of Alaska, an annual average of 54,700 new jobs would be created and sustained through the year 2057 from the Alaska OCS, with 68,600 during production and 91,500 at peak employment. A total of $145 billion in new payroll would be paid to employees through the year 2057, including $63 billion to employees in Alaska and $82 billion to employees in the rest of the U.S.
  • A total of $193 billion in government revenue would be generated through the year 2057, with $167 billion to the Federal government, $15 billion to the State of Alaska, $4 billion to local Alaska governments, and $6.5 billion to other state governments.
  • In the Arctic, industry has invested significant resources to develop comprehensive response plans in the event of an oil spill. In Alaska, Shell currently maintains a highly specialized fleet and specialized containment equipment, as well as a large workforce of highly trained people.
  • There has never been a blowout in the Alaska OCS or the Canadian Arctic. Thirty wells have been drilled in the Beaufort and five in the Chukchi – all without incident. These wells were drilled in the 1980s, utilizing older technology compared to what exists today.
  • The North Slope and the offshore are now perhaps the most studied energy basins in America. MMS has spent more than $300 million on studies in Alaska and in the past decade the agency has funded over 250 studies here, with the majority of those focused on the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
  • Access to Alaska’s OCS resources may be a key element in the economic feasibility of the proposed natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48, one of President Obama’s top energy priorities. Additional gas reserves beyond those already discovered are needed to make the project economic.
  • For every barrel of oil America refuses to develop domestically, it will have little choice but to import an equal amount from overseas – where different environmental regulations often apply.
  • Offshore oil and gas production in Alaska can occur in a responsible manner under a strong regulatory system, seasonal operating restrictions as needed, and mitigation measures to avoid conflicts with other resource and subsistence users.
  • Sharing federal royalty payments from production in federal waters with coastal states and local communities is critical, as it significantly benefits local governments, promotes national economic interests and generates additional, new federal revenues by increasing state and local participation. Such sharing facilitates a closer partnership among federal, state and local agencies.
  • Given demand for energy will rise as the economy recovers, America must continue to pursue new oil and gas development, even as the nation slowly transitions to the new energy sources of the future.
  • While we strive to develop and utilize alternative and renewable sources of energy, we will still rely on oil and natural gas for transportation, electricity, manufacturing, consumer goods and several other uses that are part of our everyday lives. Even more, our economy depends on the millions of jobs and billions in revenues offshore production generates.

Comment deadline was March 31, 2011

RDC Testimony - February 25, 2011
RDC Comment Letter - June 30, 2010

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