Taking heat on the campaign trail over fossil fuel production on federal lands, the Interior Department today announced an oil and gas lease sale that will offer more than 20 million acres off the coast of Texas and will make available all unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area.
The sale will be held Nov. 28 in New Orleans.
“The President’s commitment to a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy strategy is creating jobs here at home while reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “Exploration and development of our Western Gulf’s vital energy resources will continue to help power our nation and drive our economy.”
This will be the first offshore sale under the Administration’s new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012–2017, a five-year program that’s come under criticism from Republicans.
Gulf Coast Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) fought back this summer with a bill, which got stuck in committee, to repeal and replace with a 5-year plan “more in line with the energy and economic needs of the United States.”
“Obama’s five-year lease plan for offshore production is only half of what the previous plan was – moving us in the complete wrong direction of where our energy production should be headed,” Vitter said. “The fall-off from the leasing and permitting actions of the Obama administration is very significant, and it’s projected to get even worse.”
“This sale is part of the regionally tailored approach that we are taking under the Five Year Program,” said Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We are committed to promoting the safe development of the Nation’s vital offshore oil and gas resources while also safeguarding the marine and coastal environments.”
UPDATE: House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) charged that the administration is desperately trying to pretend it supports increased oil and gas production.
“With only two weeks until the national election, President Obama is recycling his failed energy policies by announcing an offshore lease sale for the same areas that the Administration held a sale for last December. Meanwhile, at a time when increased offshore energy production in new areas could create thousands of jobs, President Obama is keeping 85 percent of America’s offshore under lock and key,” said Hastings.
“President Obama has spent the last four years constructing American energy roadblocks and his five year moratorium on 85 percent of America’s offshore energy resources is just another example of how his efforts are making America more dependent on foreign energy. With 23 million Americans looking for work, President Obama is still using his same failed energy policies that haven’t helped create jobs, grow the economy or make America more energy secure.”
From Sen. Vitter: “There is no disputing the fact that our nation’s domestic energy production on federal lands is far lower than it was before this administration took office, yet they continue to manipulate the data. Energy production on federal property is a process that requires leasing, permitting, exploring, more permitting, and then hopefully production. The federal government can cripple any one of these stages, and this administration has made it their standard to stymie the process.”