Obama new five year plan continues “crippling moratorium” on US offshore energy

The Obama administration’s recently released five-year plan for offshore drilling leases has been met with sharp criticism from the oil and gas industry and Republicans, who say it continues a crippling moratorium on potential energy reserves on the West and East Coasts.

The administration’s 2012-2017 offshore lease plan, released June 28, expands available leasing areas for drilling slightly in the Gulf of Mexico and opens new areas in the Arctic Ocean, but also keeps both the West and East Coasts completely off-limits for offshore oil exploration.

Three of the fifteen lease auctions will be held in the Arctic seas—in Alaska’s Cook Inlet in 2016, in Chukchi Sea in 2016, and in the Beaufort Sea in 2017. The administration lauded its plan, saying the Arctic regions hold more than 75 percent of total undiscovered and recoverable oil.

However, Republicans and industry officials disagreed.

“It’s a very disappointing backtracking of the administration’s supposed ‘all of the above approach,’” said Jim Noe, the senior vice president, general counsel, and chief compliance officer of Hercules Offshore Inc., the largest shallow-water drilling company in the Gulf of Mexico. “It takes both coasts and leaves us the same areas we’ve been drilling in since the ’40s.”

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Photo credit: L.C.Nøttaasen