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Obama bans Atlantic coast drilling

Written by  Tuesday, 15 March 2016 13:32

The Obama Administration has decided to rescind a proposal to drill off the US Atlantic Coast in 13 areas, due to current market dynamics, strong local opposition, and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses, the US Department of the Interior (DOI) said today (15 March).

Image of President Obama, from The White House Flickr.

The proposal for the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022 evaluated 13 potential lease sales in six planning areas, of which 10 are in the Gulf of Mexico, and three off the coast of Alaska.

However, with the DOI’s announcement, there will not be any scheduled lease sales in the Mid- and South Atlantic program, following public input and scientific data analysis.

“We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast,” Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior said. “When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn’t make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years.”

The cancelation follows the January 2015 draft proposed program for new leases in the Atlantic, as part of Obama’s Five Year Program to develop a final offshore leasing program through 2022.

As for the Arctic, BOEM will work with Canada to move forward with offshore oil and gas planning.

“We know the Arctic is a unique place of critical importance to many – including Alaska Natives who rely on the ocean for subsistence,” Jewell said. “As we put together the final proposal, we want to hear from the public to help determine whether these areas are appropriate for future leasing and how we can protect environmental, cultural and subsistence resources.”

Jack Gerard, American Petroleum Institute president and CEO said that the Obama Administration’s policy shuns American consumers, national security, and weakens the energy future.  

“This is not how you harness America's economic and diplomatic potential. While benefiting from energy policy choices made more than a decade ago, this inconsistent policy leads to unraveling the nation's ability to be a global energy leader and has left the future of American energy and national security vulnerable for the geopolitical challenges that lie ahead,” Gerard said. “This also wipes out an opportunity to create scores of additional new jobs for Americans along the Atlantic coast and nationwide, while also erasing millions more in revenue to the government. Expanding offshore development is a key part of that equation."

The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) is also not in favor of the removal of the Atlantic Lease Sale 260 from the program, and said that the Obama Administration “turns a blind eye to long-term US energy security, and American consumers.”

“This is a short-sighted political decision of an administration influenced by the radical and extreme minority devoted to keeping fossil fuels in the ground. The removal is not based upon science or good energy policy, and will certainly inhibit the economic opportunities and energy security of our country,” Randall Luthi, NOIA president said.

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