The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published a Request for Information and Comments (RFI) on BOEM’s preparation of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. This RFI is the initial step in the multi-year planning process. It does not identify any specific course of action. Per statute and consistent with previous efforts, BOEM will evaluate all of the OCS planning areas during this first stage.
Comments on this RFI are due to BOEM by July 31, 2014. Substantial public involvement and extensive analysis will accompany all stages of the planning process, which will take up to three years to complete.
The OCS 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 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.
BOEM seeks a wide array of comment on the RFI, 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 consults with all interested parties and seeks additional public comment. Concurrently, BOEM will prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) required by the National Environmental Policy Act to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of various OCS oil and gas leasing alternatives under the Proposed Program and to help inform decisions on the Proposed Final Program.
The current Five Year Program for 2012–2017, which expires in August 2017, schedules 15 potential lease sales in six planning areas with the greatest resource potential, including more than 75 percent of the estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore waters. BOEM has held five sales thus far, including annual auctions in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico and a single sale in the portion of the Eastern Gulf not subject to the Congressional moratorium.
Click here for BOEM’s Federal Register notice seeking comment on this RFI.