WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper today announced the proposal for the nation's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022.
After receiving extensive public input and analyzing the best available scientific data, the Proposed Program released today evaluates 13 potential lease sales in six planning areas – 10 potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three potential sales off the coast of Alaska. The Proposed Program does not schedule any lease sales in the Mid- and South Atlantic Program Area due to current market dynamics, strong local opposition and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses.
The position of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce has been to look at all the facts and analyze the potential of offshore energy to diversity our economy as we weigh the risk to other industries, including Hospitality and Tourism, Commercial Fishing, and the Military’s use of the Atlantic Ocean for training.
We were waiting on data and analytics before taking a firm position on offshore energy drilling. The preconditions for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce to take a stance included (1) assurance that offshore drilling would do no harm, (2) updated research into what is truly beneath the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and (3) a memorandum of agreement for revenue sharing for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The removal of Virginia from the 5-year plan may close the door on exploration of offshore energy development providing economic diversity for the region. We felt there was the possibility of finding a way for offshore energy development to precede that was economically feasible, environmentally safe, and compatible with the needs of the U.S. Navy and our national defense in Hampton Roads.
The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce will continue to look at ways to diversify and grow our economy in the energy sector including exploration of solar, wind and alternative energy sources.