US plan for oil exploration and drilling left the Atlantic untouched

On Tuesday (March 15) the US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper announced the releasing of the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.

In the Draft Proposed Program (of January), beyond lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, there was one in the Mid-South Atlantic area.

Nevertheless, in the reviewed program the Atlantic lease was excluded, following the Pentagon opposition, public protests and pressure in the public meetings from the coastland communities of the interested states.

The new revised program provides guide for 13 potential lease sales, 10 of which in the Gulf of Mexico.

The issue of drilling in the Arctic has been left open to alternatives: there is a proposal for 3 leases, but even for no lease at all.

According to the recent Obama-Trudeau joint statement, oil exploration in this area should respect safety and environmental standards, excluding “environmentally important areas” and not interfering with native activities.

Moreover US Secretary of the Interior has ensured that the Alaskan lease sales will be put under public debate, The Guardian reported.
The Department will also prepare a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), available for public comment, before arranging a Final Program.


(Image: Onboard the Maersk Developer, operating the Hadrian-5 well for ExxonMobil about 200 miles offshore in the KC-919 field in the Gulf of Mexico, on July 6, 2011. Photo credit: Robert Seale/Flickr)