January 26, 2022

Volume XII, Number 26

Advertisement
Advertisement

January 26, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

January 25, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

January 24, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis
Advertisement

Interior Department Proposes to Open Offshore Atlantic Region to Oil and Gas Leasing

The Department of the Interior today announced that it will publish for public comment a draft proposed Five-Year Program (“DPP”) governing the leasing of offshore oil and gas for 2017 through 2022.  Interior’s DPP will follow the current 2012-2017 Five-Year Program (“current program”).

Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Interior may not issue new offshore oil and gas leases unless the sale areas are included in the program then in effect.  In deciding which areas to include within the DPP, the Interior Secretary must balance a variety of factors, including but not limited to geographical, geological, and ecological characteristics, relative environmental sensitivities, expressions of interest by industry to develop oil and gas reserves, and impacts on surrounding marine activities. 

Interior’s DPP would schedule the majority of lease sales in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, and other areas where leasing activity has been ongoing under the current program.  For the first time in decades, it would open the mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions where coastal states generally support offshore oil and gas leasing and development.  To accommodate environmental concerns, Interior is proposing a 50-mile buffer for these areas.  The DPP also contemplates new lease sales offshore Alaska, but excludes certain areas designated for marine mammal protection.  To the disappointment of the oil and gas industry, the DPP does not include areas in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (offshore Florida).  The Pacific region and other areas off-limits in the current program likewise would remain unavailable for leasing.

The process to adopt a Five-Year Program is multi-phased and takes several years to complete.  There are multiple opportunities for governors of affected coastal states, local jurisdictions, and the public generally to comment on the evolving program, which is accompanied by the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).  If adopted, the DPP would not commit the government to actually conduct any lease sales; those would be separate decisions that would, among other things, require independent NEPA review.  Nevertheless, it is important for industry and other commenters to weigh in on the recently-announced DPP to assist Interior in making the statutorily required balancing decisions, and to ensure that Interior retains in its final program all of the areas available in the DPP.  Comments are due by March 28, 2015.

© 2022 Beveridge & Diamond PC National Law Review, Volume V, Number 28
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

James M. Auslander Natural Resources & Project Development Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Principal

James (Jamie) M. Auslander's legal practice focuses on project development, natural resources, and administrative law and litigation.

Mr. Auslander co-chairs Beveridge & Diamond’s Natural Resources and Project Development Practice Group, including its Energy Practice. He focuses on complex legal issues surrounding the development of oil and gas, hard rock minerals, renewable energy, and other natural resources on public lands onshore and on the Outer Continental Shelf. He frequently litigates appeals before federal courts and administrative bodies regarding rulemakings, permits...

202-789-6009
Peter J. Schaumberg Energy & Mineral Resources Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC
Principal

Peter's practice focuses on issues related to the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands offshore and onshore. 

He counsels major multinational corporations, domestic companies, and leading industry trade associations regarding development and operations on the Outer Continental Shelf and on federally-managed lands onshore, including oil & gas, solar, wind, and geothermal resources. Peter also advises mining company and trade association clients on matters related to the development of hard-rock mineral resources on public lands. He is a highly recognized...

202-789-6043
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement