Resource Development Council

RDC Action Alert:
Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf

Read RDC's Comment Letter

Comment Deadline was September 21, 2009


The Obama administration intends to develop a new offshore energy plan for the nation over the next six months. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is seeking input on where and how his department should move forward in developing the traditional and renewable energy resources of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).  Four public hearings were recently held across the nation, including Anchorage in April where over 600 people from across the state were in attendance.

Specifically, the Interior Secretary is seeking comments on all aspects of the “Draft Proposed Program,” including energy development and economic and environmental issues in OCS areas. The new offshore energy program will likely emphasize renewable energy, with some new oil and gas development in certain areas.

Non-development interests have launched a nationwide effort to convince Secretary Salazar that no OCS development should occur off Alaska’s coast. How RDC members and their associates and friends respond to this challenge could well determine Alaska’s economic course for decades to come. A recent study by Northern Economics and the University of Alaska Anchorage reveals that OCS development has the potential to sustain Alaska's economy for generations.

Requested action:

Although the comment period has been extended to September 21st, please submit comments early and encourage your associates and friends to also do so. RDC members should reflect on experiences and facts unique to their own personal situation. Obviously, a secure supply of reasonably priced energy affects the economics of domestic mining, transportation, aviation, construction, commercial fishing and other resource development activity. The multitude of jobs these industries provide Alaskans drives our economy. Brief personalized comments from our members will go a long way in showing the Secretary the importance we place on “doing it right” in Alaska.

In your comments, specifically support the Draft Proposed Plan covering the period 2010-2015 and encourage the Minerals Management Service to provide for a seamless transition to new oil and gas leasing programs in the future that will expand access to the nation’s OCS energy resources.

How to comment:

Please reference "2010-2015 Oil and Gas Leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf," in your comments and include your name and return address. You may submit your comments using one of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal:

Under the tab ‘‘More Search Options,’’ click ‘‘Advanced Docket Search,’’ then select ‘‘Minerals Management Service’’ from the agency drop-down menu, then click the submit button. In the Docket ID column, select MMS–2008–OMM–0045 to submit public comments and to view related materials on the DPP and select MMS-2008-OMM-0046 to submit public comment and to view materials on the Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS.


Ms. Renee Orr Chief, Leasing Division
Minerals Management Service, MS 4010
381 Elden Street
Herndon, VA 20170-4817

Points to consider:

  • Access to Alaska’s OCS resources may be a key element in the economic feasibility of the proposed natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48, one of President Obama’s Top 5 Green Energy Priorities. Additional gas reserves beyond those already discovered are needed to make the project economic.
  • Access to the OCS has the potential to sharply increase throughput in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, which is currently operating at one-third capacity.
  • For every barrel of oil America refuses to develop domestically, it will have little choice but to import an equal amount from overseas – where weaker environmental regulations often apply.
  • A comprehensive energy plan for the nation must include Alaska, which accounts for over 30 percent of the nation’s technically recoverable oil and gas resources.
  • According to the federal government, more than 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie undeveloped off U.S. shores in the OCS. That amounts to enough energy to replace 50 years worth of OPEC oil.
  • A recent report issued by the Interior Department shows that these undeveloped reserves of the OCS represent about four times America’s proven reserves of oil and natural gas.
  • Based on USGS and MMS assessments, 50 percent of undiscovered oil resources and 36 percent of undiscovered natural gas resources lie offshore.
  • The Alaska OCS is an important future source of U.S. energy supply with an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas potentially in place. By comparison, total production from the North Slope since 1977 has been approximately 15.5 billion barrels.
  • The Chukchi Sea is considered the nation’s most prolific, unexplored offshore basin in North America.
  • OCS development has an outstanding safety and environmental record spanning decades in Cook Inlet, the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea and elsewhere.
  • In Alaska, over 77 percent support OCS development.  Nationwide, 61 percent of Americans support new offshore oil and gas development.
  • Oil and gas production can occur in a responsible manner under a strong regulatory system, seasonal operating restrictions as needed, and mitigation measures to avoid conflicts with other resource and subsistence users.
  • The OCS has the potential to sustain Alaska’s economy for generations, sharply increase Alaska oil and gas production, create tens of thousands of new jobs and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal, state and local government revenues.
  • According to a recent University of Alaska study, OCS production could provide an annual average of 35,000 jobs for 50 years and $72 billion in new payroll.
  • Sharing federal royalty payments from production in federal waters with coastal states and local communities is critical, as it significantly benefits local governments, promotes national economic interests and generates additional, new federal revenues by increasing state and local participation. Such sharing facilitates a closer partnership among federal, state and local agencies.
  • Given demand for energy will rise as the economy recovers, America must continue to pursue new oil and gas development, even as the nation slowly transitions to the new energy sources of the future.
  • Even under the most optimistic projections, petroleum products and natural gas are projected to account for almost 65 percent of domestic energy consumption in 2025 – requiring continued development of domestic oil and gas resources.
  • Increased emphasis on renewable energy should not preclude or require less oil and gas development. America needs more of both to reduce its reliance on foreign oil.

For additional information on the hearing:

Institute for Energy Research:

To view selected OCS testimony from Anchorage hearing:

To view RDC OCS Newsletter:

To view AOGA OCS Newsletter:

Comment Deadline was September 21, 2009