WASHINGTON, D.C. – The federal government has received more than 450,000 comments from the public regarding the development of a comprehensive offshore energy strategy for the Outer Continental Shelf, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today.
The Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) received the comments during an extended public comment period that Secretary Salazar established for the Draft Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program in February. The public comment period, which ended on Monday, September 21st, provided the public additional opportunity to provide input on a plan released by the previous administration on January 16, 2009, its last business day in office. Many of the comments came from four regional meetings that Secretary Salazar hosted in New Jersey, Louisiana, Alaska, and California.
“In the meetings I hosted – from New Orleans to Anchorage – I was proud to see Americans play an active role in the development of a comprehensive offshore energy strategy for our nation,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “I heard broad agreement that we must confront our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, build a clean energy future, and make wise use of the limited resources we have while protecting our land, water, and wildlife.”
The MMS is carefully reviewing all of the comments submitted. Following the review and analysis of the comments, which is expected to take several weeks due to the large number of comments, the next step in the process is to initiate environmental analysis and public scoping opportunities associated with the five year plan, required by law, for oil and gas development in the OCS.
“I look forward to reviewing MMS's analysis of the public comments,” said Secretary Salazar. “The offshore energy program we are developing must address our nation's energy security challenges, deliver a fair return to the taxpayers who own the resources, and account for the views of local communities, states, and tribal nations. In addition, it must take into account several key considerations, including areas of the ocean that are critical to military training and the nation's defenses; other economic benefits of the oceans, including fisheries, tourism, and subsistence uses; environmental considerations; existing oil and gas infrastructure; interest from industry; and the availability of scientific and seismic data. I am confident that we will be able to expand our nation's offshore energy portfolio by focusing on development in the right way in the right places.”
The Department of the Interior oversees more than 1.7 billion acres on the Outer Continental Shelf – an area roughly three-fourths of the size of the entire United States. In addition to overseeing oil and gas development in the OCS, the Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service has established the first-ever framework for offshore renewable energy development in order to guide environmentally responsible renewable energy development and to broaden the nation's energy supplies.
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