Notice; request for comments.
BOEM is announcing the availability of, and requests comments on, the Draft Proposed Program (DPP) for the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (2019-2024 Program or Program). BOEM is also announcing its decision to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the 2019-2024 Program (Programmatic EIS) and the initiation of the formal scoping process.
Comments should be submitted by March 9, 2018 to the address specified in the ADDRESSES section of this notice. Dates of public meetings to be held between now and March 9, 2018, will be posted on https://www.BOEM.gov/National-OCS-Program.
Comments on the DPP or Programmatic EIS may be submitted in one of the following ways:
1. Mailed in an envelope labeled “Comments for the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National Oil and Gas Leasing Program” and mailed (or hand delivered) to Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Chief, National Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development and Coordination Branch, Leasing Division, Office of Strategic Resources, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (VAM-LD), 45600 Woodland Road, Sterling, VA 20166-9216, telephone (703) 787-1613. Written comments may also be hand delivered at a public meeting to the BOEM official in charge.
2. Through the Regulations.gov web portal: Navigate to http://www.regulations.gov and under the Search tab, in the space provided, type in Docket ID: BOEM-2017-0074 to submit comments and to view other comments already submitted. Information on using www.regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket after the close of the comment period, is available through the links under the box entitled “Are you new to this site?”
For Further Information Contact
For information on the 2019-2024 Program process or BOEM’s policies associated with this notice, please contact Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Chief, National Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development and Coordination Branch at (703) 787-1613. For information on the 2019-2024 Programmatic EIS, submission of comments related to potential environmental impacts, or Cooperating Agency status, please contact Dr. Jill Lewandowski, Chief, Division of Environmental Assessment, at (703) 787-1703.
On April 28, 2017, Presidential Executive Order 13795: Implementing an America First Offshore Energy Strategy (E.O. 13795), directed the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to give full consideration to revising the schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales adopted in the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which was approved on January 17, 2017. The Secretary issued Secretarial Order 3350 on May 1, 2017, which further directed BOEM to develop a new National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. As directed by the Secretary, BOEM initiated the development of the 2019-2024 Program by issuing a request for information and comments (RFI) on July 3, 2017 (82 FR 30886). The Program development process required by section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), 43 U.S.C. 1344, and its implementing regulations, includes the development of a DPP, a Proposed Program, a Proposed Final Program (PFP), and Secretarial approval of the 2019-2024 Program.
This notice serves as the NOA for the DPP and the NOI for the preparation of a Programmatic EIS. The DPP includes the section 18 analysis for the OCS areas of potential interest to the Secretary and his initial proposed schedule of lease sales for the 2019-2024 Program. The DPP provides the basis for gathering information and conducting analyses to inform the Secretary on which areas to include for further leasing consideration in the 2019-2024 Program.
The DPP for the 2019-2024 Program would make more than 98 percent of the OCS resources available to consider for oil and gas leasing during the 2019-2024 period. Including at this stage nearly the entire OCS for potential oil and gas discovery is consistent with advancing the goal of moving the United States from simply aspiring to energy independence to attaining energy dominance. This DPP would allow for unprecedented increases in access to America’s extensive offshore oil and gas resources, a critical component of the Nation’s energy portfolio, and emphasizes the importance of producing American energy in America.
The DPP will enable the Secretary to receive information necessary to conduct a thorough consideration of the Section 18(a)(2) factors in order to perform the balancing analysis required by Section 18(a)(3) of the OCS Lands Act. Including areas in the 2019-2024 Program will incentivize industry to employ their world-class geological and technical expertise to assess and evaluate America’s potential offshore oil and gas resources. By not prematurely restricting or narrowing OCS areas under consideration, this DPP will allow industry the opportunity to further inform the Secretary of their interest in leasing frontier areas and to collect data in areas that have not been explored in decades, if ever. This will, in turn, further our understanding of the resources available on the OCS to meet national energy needs. The Secretary’s approach to the DPP lease sale schedule does not prematurely foreclose exploration planning, but fosters it, to allow for potential for the discovery of oil and gas on the OCS.
Allowing for the potential discovery of new oil and gas reserves on the OCS is consistent with the Administration’s America-First Energy Strategy, which seeks to achieve energy security and resilience by reducing U.S. reliance on imported energy. Additionally, OCS oil and gas production benefits the United States by helping to reinvigorate American manufacturing and job growth, and contributes to the gross domestic product. Many of the jobs in the oil and gas industry earn a significant wage premium; these employees have more purchasing power and can consume more goods and services, increasing their standard of living, and contributing more to the economy.
Grounded in the above principles, and after careful consideration of public input and the OCS Lands Act Section 18(a)(2) factors, the DPP proposes a lease sale schedule of 47 lease sales in all four OCS regions and includes 25 of the 26 planning areas: 19 lease sales in the Alaska Region (3 in the Chukchi Sea, 3 in the Beaufort Sea, 2 in Cook Inlet, and 1 sale each in the 11 other available planning areas in Alaska), 7 lease sales in the Pacific Region (2 each for Northern California, Central California, and Southern California, and 1 for Washington/Oregon), 12 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Region (10 regionwide lease sales for the portions of the Central, Western, and Eastern GOM planning areas that are not currently under moratorium, and 2 sales for the portions of the Central and Eastern GOM planning areas that will no longer be under moratorium in 2022), and 9 lease sales in the Atlantic Region (3 sales each for the Mid- and South Atlantic, 2 for the North Atlantic, and 1 for the Straits of Florida).