President Trump and Secretary Zinke Open up Comment Period for New 5-Year National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Request for Information (RFI) Begins Multi-Year Evaluation Process to Engage Public, States, & Tribes

Last edited 9/29/2021

Date: June 29, 2017

WASHINGTON – Today, at an Energy Week event hosted by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, President Donald J. Trump announced that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has taken action to open up the public comment period for a new 5-year National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). President Trump announced on stage that the comment period is the first step in executing the new 5-year plan which was put in action by the April 28 executive order on American Energy. The 2017-2022 Five Year Program, which is set to begin this summer, will continue to be executed until the new National OCS Program is complete.

Monday's publication of the RFI begins a 45-day public comment period. Substantial public involvement and extensive analysis will accompany all stages of the planning process, which generally takes two to three years to complete. The notice will be on display in the Federal Register public reading room Friday, June 30, 2017, and published in the Federal Register Monday, July 3. Comments will be accepted until 45 days after the publication date which will be July 3.

“Developing a new National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program that respects environmental and economic sensitivities but still allows us to responsibly develop our resources is critical to reaching President Trump’s goal of American energy dominance,” said Secretary Zinke. “Offering more areas for energy exploration and responsible development was a cornerstone of the President’s campaign and this action is the first step in making good on that promise for offshore oil and gas.”

“Under the last administration, 94% of the OCS was off-limits to responsible development, despite interest from state and local governments and industry leaders. The Trump Administration is dedicated to energy dominance, growing the economy and giving the public a say in how our natural resources are used, and that’s exactly what we are doing by opening up the Request For Information and a new 5-year plan,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Kate MacGregor.​

The Secretary's Order calls for enhancing opportunities for energy exploration, leasing, and development of the OCS, establishing regulatory certainty for OCS activities, and enhancing conservation stewardship, thereby providing jobs, energy security, and revenue for the American people.

“Our country has a massive energy economy and we should absolutely wear it on our sleeves, rather than keep energy resources in the ground,” said Vincent DeVito, Counselor to the Secretary of Interior for Energy Policy. “This work will encourage responsible energy exploration and production, in order to advance the United States' position as a global energy force and foster security for the benefit of the American citizenry."​

Publication in the Federal Register of a Request for Information and Comments (RFI) on the Preparation of the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program is the initial step. Per statute and consistent with previous efforts, BOEM will evaluate all 26 of the OCS planning areas during this first stage and is, therefore, requesting comments on all areas.

The initiation of a new National OCS Program development process, managed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), is a key aspect of the implementation of President Donald Trump’s America First Offshore Energy Strategy, as outlined in the President’s Executive Order (E.O.) 13795 on April 28, 2017, which was amplified by Secretary Zinke’s DOI Order 3350 on May 1, 2017.

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 auctions that would best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following its approval. In developing the National OCS Program, which has also been known as a Five Year 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. As required by the President’s Executive Order, DOI will cooperate with the Departments of Defense and Commerce on issues pertaining to this National OCS Program development process.

“This first step does not propose to schedule sales in particular areas, or make any preliminary decisions on what areas will be included in the schedule,” said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank. “The RFI considers all areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and provides an opportunity for interested parties to submit comments and suggestions about the potential for leasing and to identify environmental and other concerns and uses that may be affected by offshore leasing.”

BOEM seeks a wide array of input, including information on the economic, social, and environmental values of all OCS resources, as well as the potential impact of oil and gas exploration and development on other resource values of the OCS and the marine, coastal, and human environments.

Using the information received, BOEM will prepare a Draft Proposed Program, followed by a Proposed Program and a Proposed Final Program. Throughout the planning process, BOEM will consult with all interested parties and will seek additional public comment.

The current National OCS Program for 2017–2022 schedules 11 potential lease sales; 10 in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet of Alaska.

BOEM currently manages more than 3,000 active OCS leases, covering more than 16 million acres – the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico. Of those, approximately 885 are producing leases, covering 4.4 million acres. In 2016, OCS oil and gas leases accounted for about 18 percent of domestic oil production and 4 percent of domestic natural gas production. This production generates billions of dollars in revenue for state and local governments and the U.S. taxpayer, while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Under the RFI announced today, comments will be accepted until August 17, 2017, in either of the following ways:

Electronically (preferred method): Open the "Open Comment Document" link and follow instructions to view relevant documents and submit comments.

In written form, deliver to: Ms. Kelly Hammerle, National Program Manager, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; 45600 Woodland Road-VAM-LD; Sterling, Virginia 20166. 

Additional information on the process of developing the next National OCS Program as well as on the current National OCS Program can be found here.

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