The US Minerals Management Service recently announced that it intends to prepare a new Five Year Leasing Plan for the Outer Continental Shelf. This is a vital first step in initiating more exploration and production on OCS lands that MMS estimates could hold 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
MMS has opened the process for taking public comments. I’m writing to you, in hope that you will take a few minutes form your hectic day to write a brief note or letter to MMS, underscoring your support for leasing these lands and producing more of the oil and gas that are the foundation for our economy, living standards and opportunities.
Already, a number of environmental pressure groups have mobilized their extensive financial and networking resources, to deluge MMS with comments OPPOSING any plan that opens up more OCS acreage for leasing and drilling. I’ve heard that comments to MMS are currently running at approximately 15 to 1 AGAINST opening new OCS areas – and thus in favor of continuing the unconscionable Energy War on Poor Families.
To make it easier for you to write a letter to MMS, I’ve attached a sample letter (click on the link below) that provides some facts and ideas you can use, and that you can tailor to your own taste. Also attached are a couple of background papers by MMS and the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) that provide useful information about the OCS program and the laws and technologies that enable us to extract even more energy, from even deeper waters, with even greater care for the environmental values we all cherish.
You can send a detailed letter like this. But even a brief letter supporting a full analysis and expanded leasing program will help greatly.
All comment letters must REACH MMS by SEPTEMBER 15, when the comment period closes.
Letters can be snail-mailed to the addresses on the sample MMS letter – or they can be submitted by going to the MMS website (http://www.mms.gov/5-year/5-YearProgramComments.htm) and using either of the following links:
via the web: Public Commenting System
via e-mail: 5YearRFIComments@mms.gov
Comments on 5-Year OCS Oil & Gas Leasing Program for 2010-2015
Ms. Renee Orr
5-Year Program Manager
Minerals Management Service (MS-4010)
381 Elden Street
Herndon, VA 20170
Mr. James F. Bennett
Chief, Branch of Environmental Assessment
Minerals Management Service (MS-4042)
381 Elden Street
Herndon, VA 20170
Dear Ms. Orr and Mr. Bennett:
I am writing to express my strong support for MMS plans to initiate a new five year leasing program, and for expanded leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) during the 2010-2015 five-year period. I urge you to fully consider and carefully analyze all planning areas of the OCS, leaving none off the table, as you prepare the draft proposed program and environmental impact statement.
Energy is the foundation of modern society and the living standards we enjoy. It is the key to actually securing the rights and opportunities guaranteed by our Constitution. Abundant, reliable, affordable energy is essential for jobs, food, heating and transportation. Reducing the soaring cost of energy is especially important for America’s small businesses, minorities and poorest families.
Right now, the United States is spending almost $700 billion a year to import foreign oil and gas – because we have made the vast majority of our lands and resources off limits to drilling. As T. Boone Pickens constantly reminds us in his ads, this is rapidly becoming the largest transfer of wealth from one nation to another in the history of mankind. It can not, must not, and need not continue.
On top of that, as Investor’s Business Daily notes, “America is nearly helpless in the face of a resurgent Russia intent on reclaiming its czarist empire, an Iran hellbent on acquiring nuclear weapons, a China making common cause with dictators to acquire energy, and a menacing Venezuela aligning with Russia and Cuba to control sea lanes in the Caribbean, where 64 percent of all US-bound tanker traffic passes.”
The oil and natural gas beneath the 1.76 billion acres of the OCS are vitally needed resources that belong to all Americans. Nearly one-third of US domestic production already comes from the OCS, and the Minerals Management Service has conservatively estimated that undiscovered, technically recoverable resources could total 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The long record of OCS operations demonstrates that this energy can be produced without harming the marine environment – thanks to new rules, technologies, and commitments by government and industry alike to environmental safeguards. In fact, there has not been a major spill from an OCS production platform in nearly 30 years, and MMS data show that only 101,995 barrels of oil were spilled during all operations on the OCS between 1980 and 2007, out of 11,855,000,000 barrels produced.
MMS is required by law to prepare a schedule of OCS lease sales that “best meet national energy needs for the 5-year period.” To achieve this goal, the agency must develop a schedule that has maximum flexibility, and include as much acreage as possible, so that it can respond to our nation’s changing and growing energy needs, population and economic growth, and economic and national security.
Growing US and world demands for oil and gas are not being met with adequately expanding supplies. As a result, gasoline and other energy prices have more than doubled in recent years – and far too many families have had to make painful choices between heating, eating, medical care, transportation, and rent or mortgage payments. Many have little money left over at the end of the month for vacations, college or retirement. This is both intolerable and unnecessary.
A major reason for this situation is that our own government has closed numerous areas to leasing – and denied us access to energy resources that belong to the American people. In fact, for decades now, Congress has imposed “temporary” moratoria that prohibit oil and gas leasing, drilling and production on 85 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf off Alaska and the Lower 48 States.
Over the past year, however, people have begun to realize that government has become the cause of, rather than the solution to, high prices and other energy problems. By margins of 2:1 and even 3:1, they are now demanding that these moratoria be lifted, and drilling resumed on the OCS.
President Bush recently reversed the Executive Branch prohibitions on leasing and drilling, and Americans are demanding that Congress now lift its prohibitions. I am optimistic that Congress will ultimately listen to the will of the people and act responsibly, to end the needless moratoria.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has already removed restrictions on drilling for 30 billion barrels of oil in the Chukchi Sea and all the natural gas in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s shores. She has already finished the environmental impact studies, so that shipments to the Lower 48 can start in as little as a year or two – if MMS and Congress do their jobs.
I therefore believe MMS has a responsibility to take a long-term view, assume the moratoria will end, and include in its analyses and plans all the Outer Continental Shelf lands and resources that We the People of the United States own off our shores: in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. The new MMS plan will be in effect until 2015 – and I ask simply that MMS devise its plan accordingly, to reflect continually changing global conditions and steadily rising energy demands.
That means including all areas, off all our coasts in the new Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan.
Thank you for providing this opportunity to comment, and for making the 2010-2015 OCS plan a truly comprehensive plan that does exactly that.