August 15, 2022
Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Chief
National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development and Coordination Branch Leasing Division
Office of Strategic Resources, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (WAM-LD)
45600 Woodland Road
Sterling, VA 20166-9216
I am writing to you today on behalf of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, an organization that represents the oil and gas operators and the service companies of the oil and gas industry in Louisiana.
We respectfully request that you quickly finalize the 5-year program for offshore leasing and include the maximum number of offshore lease sales.
While we appreciate that the Department of the Interior finally released a proposed 5-year offshore leasing program after a long delay, we are concerned the program could fall far short of what is needed to meet our country’s energy needs. We are particularly concerned about the extent to which the proposed program attempts to justify scheduling no new oil and gas lease sales over the next five years, during a time in which energy prices are rising, global supply chains are being disrupted, and inflation remains at historic levels.
This is a serious economic risk for millions of American families and businesses. Gulf of Mexico energy producers supply nearly 15% of our own nation’s oil production and over 2% of the nation’s natural gas production. Leaving open the option to hold zero future lease sales puts U.S. energy security at risk and compromises U.S. producers’ ability to provide affordable, reliable energy to the American people.
It’s also a jobs issue for American workers. Offshore oil and natural gas development supports over 350,000 jobs throughout the U.S., contributing billions to the economy and local, state, and federal tax revenues.
Furthermore, as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management noted in the Proposed Program, Gulf of Mexico production is amongst the lowest carbon intensive in the world. BOEM found that ending federal oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico could increase global upstream emissions as U.S. energy demand would be partially satisfied by imports from foreign producers with a greater carbon footprint.
Independent analysis shows that oil and natural gas are going to play an important role in fulfilling U.S. energy needs for the foreseeable future. The question is whether the oil and gas will come from here in the U.S., where it is produced under some of the strictest environmental standards in the world, or if the U.S. will cede our position as global energy leaders and instead become reliant on foreign sources to supply our energy needs.
Furthermore, the Gulf of Mexico’s offshore oil and gas industry is an economic engine for our nation contributing $5-8 billion per year to the federal treasury; and provides critical funding for our coastal communities that depend on energy revenues to fund vital services like education, health care, police and fire protection, and highways and infrastructure. In fact, Gulf oil and gas revenues fund 60% of federal energy revenue—supporting conservation projects and improving National Park infrastructure throughout our country.
In addition, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) allows Gulf States to share in offshore revenue generated from oil production. To date, GOMESA has allowed over $300 million to flow to states for critical coastal restoration and levee protection projects that protect our environment, rebuild our wetlands, and sustain our unique cultural heritage. A federal leasing ban will have a direct impact on future GOMESA revenues to states like Louisiana who are currently using those funds to implement a $50 billion State Master Plan and will ultimately put coastal communities at an increased risk from tropical storms and hurricanes.
It is critical that the Final Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program include all 10 of the proposed lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the proposed sale for the Cook Inlet in Alaska. These sales will help the United States continue its energy leadership, support good-paying jobs, and meet domestic energy demand with resources produced right here.
I look forward to the Department quickly finalizing a robust 5-year program for offshore oil and gas leasing and including the maximum number of offshore lease sales.
Louisiana Oil & Gas Association