New Five-Year OCS Lease Sale Program
 Comment Deadline August 17th

RDC Comment Letter

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued a call for public comments on a new five-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing program that would replace the current program that was crafted by the Obama administration and excluded most of the Alaska Arctic from future exploration. Offshore Arctic lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas were initially included in the current program, but were omitted last November.

At this stage, the Trump administration’s plan, aimed at the 2019-2024 period, does not propose specific lease sales, but the administration has made clear it wants more exploration in the Arctic and elsewhere.

Development of the new program follows President Trump’s Executive Order that rescinded President Obama’s ban on Arctic drilling. Environmental groups, however, have filed a lawsuit challenging the order. 

The comment period invites the public to provide information on areas that should be considered for leasing in the Draft Proposed Program (DPP). The comment period ends August 17. Rewriting the existing five-year program is expected to take at least two years. This request for information is the first step in the process to revise the leasing schedule.

Action Requested
Submit comments urging BOEM to re-consider all unleased areas in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the DPP. It is especially important that areas of the Alaska OCS considered for leasing in the 2017-2022 program, but omitted from the final five-year plan, be reviewed and taken into account. By scoping all areas for potential leasing, BOEM would ensure all options are available for discussion. Future environmental analyses and other studies will inform BOEM on which specific areas may warrant special considerations.

Submit comments online:

Points to consider for your comments:

  • BOEM should provide for new access to previously unleased areas of Alaska’s Arctic OCS, especially those areas that were omitted from the current program.
  • Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas form one of the most prospective basins in the world. Together, these areas are estimated to hold 23.6 billion barrels of oil and 104 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
  • The Alaskan Arctic OCS would constitute the 8th largest oil resource in the world, ahead of Nigeria, Libya, Russia and Norway.
  • In its new five-year program, BOEM should also expand access in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to bolster domestic energy production, support hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and generate billions in new federal revenues.
  • In 2016, the federal OCS produced 1.625 million barrels of oil per day or about 18 percent of domestic production. Despite a surge in U.S. oil production in recent years, the U.S. still imported nearly 8 million barrels a day last year to meet domestic needs.
  • The Arctic's untapped resources are of critical importance to both Alaska and the United States. Oil and gas development in the Arctic OCS is predicted to produce an annual average of 35,000 direct and indirect jobs over the next half century for Alaska alone. Those jobs would represent a total payroll of over $70 billion.  
  • Economic activity resulting from Arctic OCS development is also predicted to generate an annual average of nearly 55,000 jobs nationwide, with an estimated cumulative payroll amounting to $145 billion over the same time period.
  • From an economic standpoint alone, promoting and fostering Arctic OCS development would represent a windfall for the national economy.  Revenues generated from Arctic OCS oil and natural gas production could amount to $200 billion to federal, state and local governments.
  • Offshore development would serve to help maintain the integrity of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), a critical link to America’s energy distribution. TAPS has safely transported more than 17 billion barrels of oil since it came online over 40 years ago.  
  • Twenty-five years ago, North Slope oil production exceeded two million barrels a day, which accounted for a quarter of domestic crude oil production.  However, TAPS throughput has now declined to approximately 528,000 barrels per day. Given the vast resources available in the Arctic OCS, future production could stem the decline, allowing for TAPS to remain viable for decades.  
  • Excluding the Alaska Arctic from future lease sales would severely compromise the long-term energy and economic security of Alaska and the nation.
  • Industry has shown that impacts to marine mammal subsistence activity can be avoided and mitigated through close cooperation and communication with primary subsistence users. Newly instituted technologies will further ensure that development and environmental protection can coexist in the Arctic.
  • Leasing and subsequent Arctic OCS exploration and development would bring much-needed infrastructure to the region and would also provide additional response capabilities in an area where shipping and other activities are increasing.
  • Major investments in research in the Arctic OCS over decades by industry, government, and academia will provide a strong platform for responsible development that minimizes risks to other resources.
  • Over 72% of Alaskans have supported offshore development. (Consumer Energy Alliance poll, October 2014)
  • BOEM lease sales provide some level of predictability and certainty for industry to engage in long-term strategies to develop the Arctic’s vast resources.
  • OCS development would serve as an important factor in reducing economic risks for the proposed Alaska LNG Project.
  • Oil and gas development in the Arctic OCS could ultimately prove indispensable, given forecasts that predict this nation’s energy demands increasing over ten percent in the next quarter century. Even with dramatic increases in alternative energy sources, the majority of these growing energy demands will continue to be satisfied through use of fossil fuels.  


Comment Deadline August 17th