The U.S. has exclusive control over the waters extending out to 200 nautical miles. While many still see the open ocean as the last "wild frontier" nothing could be further from the truth. Between fishing, shipping, and offshore energy development, our waters are busier than ever. But the use and development of the ocean always comes with a price, and as such should only be done in a way that is responsible, sustainable, and takes into account the real climate realities Earth faces. This section looks at the current uses and threats faced by offshore development, focused on traditional and renewable energy.
Offshore oil and gas energy drilling in U.S. waters is regulated via a National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program). This is a five year program, establishing a schedule of oil and gas lease sales proposed for planning areas of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The Program specifies the size, timing, and location of potential leasing activity during the five year span of the plan.
The current 2017-2022 National OCS Program was finalized in 2016. However, with the change in federal administration, President Trump directed the Department of Interior in April 2017 through Executive Order 13795 to initiate a process through its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop a new National OCS Program for 2019-2024 to replace the 2017-2022 Program.
Immediately afterward, the Secretary of Interior issued Secretarial Order 3350 in May of 2017 that built upon the President's Executive Order in calling not only for a new National OCS Program, but also the expediting of incidental take permits for marine wildlife in seismic testing and review or stop implementation of rules passed in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.
On January 4, 2018, BOEM released for public comment Interior's Draft Proposed Plan (DPP). This Plan is the exact opposite of responsible offshore energy development. It proposes to open over 90 percent of the U.S. offshore waters to development, and does not explicitly put off limits our National Marine Sanctuaries or Marine National Monuments, where drilling is currently banned.
It is a give away to the oil and gas industry -- one they do not deserve given the industry's historical inability to contain continuous leaks in the Gulf of Mexico or prevent the cyclical devastating oil disasters, like the Deepwater Horizon Disaster of 2010, which dumped an estimated 205 million barrels gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over a span of 87 days.
Our ocean and coasts need your help. We do not want another Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster. From now until March 9, 2018, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is taking public comment on the National OCS Five Year Draft Proposed Plan. You can stand up for ocean conservation by signing our petition telling BOEM and President Trump that our offshore waters are not for sale!