Obama backing away from offshore lease sale in the Atlantic?

United States president Barack Obama is reportedly looking to keep the southeast Atlantic coast of the U.S. off limits for offshore drilling.

According to New York Times, which cited a person close to the matter, the Obama administration “yielding to an outpouring of opposition from coastal communities” is expected to announce the decision on Tuesday.

The draft proposal for the Lease Sale 2017-2022 includes eight planning areas—three in the Gulf of Mexico, two in the Atlantic, and three in Alaska, which is and nearly 80% of estimated undiscovered technically available oil and gas resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, according to the Department of Interior.

What is being proposed for the Atlantic?

When it comes to the Atlantic, according to DOI, the Draft Proposed Program proposes a sale late in the Program at least 50 miles offshore the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia in a portion of the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Planning Areas.

The sale late in the program means that the lease sale for the area would be held in 2021.

While the news might be welcomed by the environmentalists, the industry reps will not be happy.

‘Foolish’ to remove areas from consideration

In a statement issued on Monday NOIA President Randall Luthi called for a maximum access 2017-2022 Offshore Leasing Program that includes the Atlantic OCS “to further our nation’s position as the global energy leader, strengthen our economy, and keep energy affordable for American consumers.”


He said: “With lease sales proposed in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, the Cook Inlet and Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in Alaska, and the Mid- and South Atlantic, an area last made available in the 1980s, the 2017-2022 OCS leasing program holds the potential for increased access to offshore resources and greater economic and energy benefits. Proposed Atlantic Lease Sale 260 could create much needed jobs, investment and economic growth for Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, and provide tremendous economic, consumer and security benefits to the rest of the country.”

“It is important to point out that the Draft Proposed Program effectively keeps about 87% of the Outer Continental Shelf locked away. It would be energy-foolish and short sighted to remove more areas from consideration in the upcoming Proposed Program.”

Alarmist rhetoric

He slammed “the alarmist and scientifically inaccurate rhetoric of anti-fossil fuel environmental groups”, adding that polls show that a majority of Americans support offshore oil and gas production, including, by a two-to-one margin, a majority of the residents of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

“There is also bipartisan and bicameral support in Congress for the safe exploration and production of America’s offshore energy resources,” Luthi said.

“Oil and natural gas will remain major sources of reliable and affordable energy for the foreseeable future, as the global energy demand grows. Other nations along the Atlantic Ocean, including Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Greenland, Brazil and Ghana, have recognized the energy and economic opportunities off their own shores and are exploring new offshore areas. We should do the same.”


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