The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The Administration’s Flawed Five-Year Offshore Plan

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 28, 2012

Words matter. But actions matter more, and the Interior Department’s final five-year offshore oil and natural gas leasing plan shows that while the administration trumpets an all-of-the-above energy approach, it falls short of providing the bold leadership needed to fully deploy our country’s ample resources.

You can read Interior’s statement on the plan here. Basically, Secretary Ken Salazar says the strategy includes areas with the “highest-known resource potential.” Sounds good, but it took industry exploration for those areas to gain that designation. Only through exploration can we learn the resource potential of other areas. Loudly, misguidedly, the administration is saying “no” to that.

Its plan omits areas off both coasts and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico that are believed to be rich in energy – but which will remain unexplored. There’s little incentive to spend millions of dollars to research and gather data in these areas because they are off-limits to exploratory drilling. API’s Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operations:

“We must move past policies that undermine the mission of supplying Americans with the energy they need. While vitally important, the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico areas included in this proposed offshore program are not ‘new’ areas. … Today’s proposal will not allow us to realize the full benefits from safe and responsible development of America’s oil and natural gas resources, continuing a pattern of delay and unnecessary restraint.”

Milito said Interior’s plan, announced with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, actually pushes back a scheduled 2015 lease sale for the Beaufort Sea off Alaska – where leasing already has occurred. It makes more areas off limits than it makes available. Milito:

“A sensible long-term strategy would embrace and promote expanded oil and natural gas exploration and development to create new jobs and secure critical energy supplies for future generations. … Exploring and developing new areas that offer oil and natural gas gives the United States the golden opportunity to create an additional one million new jobs and billions in new revenue to our government in just seven years. We cannot reach these goals by constricting exploration and obstructing the safe and responsible development of American energy resources.”

While oil production has increased in private and state lands, this administration has consistently deterred activity on federal lands, where oil production has actually decreased. Instead of forward-looking energy leadership that would create jobs, generate tax revenue for governments and make America’s future more secure, the administration offers posturing and talk. Instead of acting to promote greater domestic oil and natural gas production it is restricting opportunity and building in delay – neither of which will prepare the United States for its energy future.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.