Keep lease sale in OCS plan, 3 Mid-Atlantic House members urge Jewell

Three US House Republicans from Mid-Atlantic coastal states asked US Interior Sec. Sally Jewell to keep all of the proposed area for an oil and gas lease sale off their states in the next 5-year US Outer Continental Shelf management program.

“While the Department of the Interior concludes the planning period for the 2017-22 OCS program, we want to remind you of the continued support that exists for [Sale No. 260 on the Mid-Atlantic OCS] and ask that you retain the full area proposed in the Draft Proposed Program without further limitations,” Reps. Richard Hudson (NC), Jeff Duncan (SC), and Scott Rigell (Va.) said in their Feb. 29 letter to the secretary.

The three co-chair the Atlantic Offshore Energy Caucus, which they formed in January 2015. “For years, there has been broad bipartisan support for oil and gas leasing, exploration, and production off of the Atlantic coast,” Hudson said as he released their letter. “I want to reiterate this support and urge [DOI] to allow our state to seize this incredible opportunity to unleash our natural resources, create jobs, and boost our economy.”

Their letter came 4 days after Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam wrote a letter to US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Ross Hopper asking that a Mid-Atlantic lease sale be removed from the 2017-22 OCS program (OGJ Online, Feb. 26, 2016).

Hudson said that while there is broad support for oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast, Jewell has said there is no guarantee a lease sale will remain a part of the next 5-year OCS program currently being developed. “I will continue to be on the front lines of this debate and work to get North Carolina into the energy business,” he said.

Cites support in 4 states

In their letter, the lawmakers said many of their colleagues in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia support access to oil and gas resources off their states’ coasts.

“We ask that you not close the door on the potential for thousands of new jobs, enhanced national security, and much needed new government revenue by removing the Atlantic in the proposed plan, or further limit the one proposed lease sale in the [DPP],” they said.

National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi applauded the House Republicans’ action. “Opening new offshore areas for energy development could provide substantial benefits to all Americans, especially those who reside in the Atlantic states,” he said.

Offshore energy development is not a partisan energy issue, he emphasized. House and Senate Democrats and Republicans and a majority of the American public have expressed their support for the safe exploration and production of America's offshore energy resources,” Luthi said.

“Furthermore, for decades in the Gulf of Mexico and other places around the world, energy development, conservation efforts, and other industries—be it tourism, commercial or recreational fishing, or others—have not only coexisted, but thrived alongside each other,” he said. “We have no reason to expect a different outcome in the Atlantic.”

Contact Nick Snow at

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