July 30, 2008
Brian Kennedy (202) 434-8200

Interior Department Initiates New Offshore Drilling Plan

62 Days Until Congressional Offshore Energy Ban Expires

Washington, DC – The Institute for Energy Research (IER) today applauded the Department of Interior’s decision to craft a new 5-year plan for energy production on the outer continental shelf (OCS) to include areas currently under Congressional moratoria.  IER president Thomas Pyle issued the following statement:

“Assuming the Congressional ban expires, this decision sets the stage for the opening of hundreds of millions of offshore federal lands that have never been explored for their energy potential.  It’s the kind of proactive step we rarely see the government take, but given the urgent need to increase domestic energy supplies, it’s the right thing to do.  The United States has been fighting its economic and energy battles with one hand tied behind its back for too long.”

“With nations around the world increasing supplies to help meet growing global demand, it is time for the U.S. government to reverse its unilateral, go-it-alone refusal to increase its domestic production.  Lifting the presidential moratorium was a good first step, and today’s announcement is a strong second, but one hurdle still remains.”

Background Notes:

Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), the Department of Interior is required to prepare “5 year plans” that specify the size, timing and location of areas to be used for offshore energy production.  Offshore energy leasing is being conducted under the current 2007-2012 five-year plan, which excludes all areas under energy production bans.

President Bush rescinded the executive ban on OCS energy on July 14th, 2008.  The Congressional ban is set to expire on September 30, 2008, unless Congress votes with extend it.

The Secretary of the Interior today exercised his administrative authority to begin crafting a new 5 year plan that will accommodate energy leasing in new areas, should the Congressional ban expire or otherwise be done away with.

Less than 3% of the OCS is leased for energy exploration and production and 85% of the lower 48 OCS is off limits because of the Congressional ban, which expires at the end of September.

More on OCS Energy from IER:

·         Map of OCS Areas That Will Be Leased If Ban Expires

·         The 68 Million Acres/Use it or Lose it Charade

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a not-for-profit public foundation that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.  Founded in 1989, IER is funded entirely by tax deductible contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. No financial support is sought or accepted from government (taxpayers).


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