“I am going to lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities.” – Donald J. Trump
President Trump signed an Executive Order Friday that directs the Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Commerce to take action on U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) restrictions against energy production. The Secretary of the Interior will review areas closed off by the current five-year plan for the sale of oil and gas leases in the OCS, without disrupting scheduled lease sales. These planning areas include Western and Central Gulf of Mexico, Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, Cook Inlet, Mid and South Atlantic.
The Secretary of the Interior will review four rules and regulations put in place last year that could reduce exploration and development in the OCS. These include:
- Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas, and Sulfur Leases, and Holders of Pipeline Right-of-Way and Right-of-Use and Easement Grants in the Outer Continental Shelf
- Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations in the Outer Continental Shelf-Blowout Preventer Systems and Well Control
- Air Quality Control, Reporting, and Compliance
- Oil and Gas and Sulfur Operations on the Outer Continental ShelfRequirements for Exploratory Drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf
The Secretary of Commerce is directed to refrain from designating or expanding National Marine Sanctuaries unless the proposal includes a timely, full accounting from the Department of the Interior of any energy or mineral resource potential including offshore energy from wind, oil, natural gas, and other sources within the designated area and the potential impact the proposed designation or expansion will have on the development of those resources.
The Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the Interior will work together to develop a streamlined permitting approach for privately funded seismic data research and collection to expeditiously determine the offshore resource potential of the United States.
The OCS is expected to contain 90 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas. In FY 2016, Federal revenues from the OCS were $2.8 billion; the actual sales value of the oil and gas resources was $26 billion and generated $55 billion in total spending in the economy. These expenditures supported approximately 315,000 American jobs. Revenue to the Federal Government from leasing the OCS has fallen by over 80 percent, from $18 billion in 2008 to $2.8 billion in 2016. On average, OCS energy development generates $10-12 billion annually.
Alaska has seen a number of nearby OCS areas closed off to development and now has the second highest unemployment in the country, as its resource sectors, particularly oil and gas, have lost thousands of jobs. At least one energy company has announced it would withdraw from all but one of its OCS leases in Alaska because of uncertain federal regulations.