April 21, 2009
Laura Henderson 202.621.2951

Court Decision Tests Salazar’s Mettle on Offshore
Energy Production

Interior Secretary holds key to unlock drilling plan from legal morass, but cat holds his tongue

WASHINGTON – Institute for Energy Research (IER) president Thomas J. Pyle issued the following statement today in response to a recent court decision vacating the Department of the Interior’s existing five-year offshore energy plan, leaving the United States – absent intervention by the Interior secretary – without a legal means of developing its offshore energy resources even in areas currently approved for exploration:

“The existing 5-year plan encompasses areas with a mean resource potential of 10 billion barrels of oil and 44 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. At today’s prices, this represents a domestic investment of $669 billion dollars. That’s $669 billion dollars we can either spend here in America — putting Americans to work producing American energy — or spend abroad, increasing the wealth, employment and power of Nations that understand something our leaders appear to have forgotten: the strategic significance of seeking, securing, and producing the energy that makes economic growth possible.

“Now that this plan has been declared null and void as a matter of law, Secretary Salazar has a decision to make: He can order his department to immediately comply with the Court’s request for additional information and analysis – information that has never been required in the past, but has nevertheless already been collected – or he can use the same strategy for the current five-year plan that he has so ably employed for the new five-year plan: delay, obstruct, and distract.

“American jobs, to say nothing of nation’s energy future, quite literally hang in the balance. What’s it going to be, Mr. Secretary?”

NOTE: Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a claim filed by the nation’s leading anti-energy lawsuit groups supporting the assertion that the Interior Departments existing 2007-2012 offshore energy plan did not meet its criteria for prohibiting any additional production of American energy off our shores. The plan has been vacated, throwing into doubt whether any new exploration can commence without an active five-year plan in place. The decision also raises the possibility that the Interior Department will be forced to return more than $10 billion in up-front bonus bids. Operators have not yet announced whether they will seek further clarification from the Court, or future recompense from the Department.

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. IER maintains that freely-functioning energy markets provide the most efficient and effective solutions to today’s global energy and environmental challenges and, as such, are critical to the well-being of individuals and society.


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