U.S. Sen. David Vitter today highlighted that the U.S. Department of Interior's western Gulf of Mexico lease sale today is well behind previously projected revenue levels. Today's lease sale was only the third since the 2010 drilling moratorium. The five-year lease sale plan that was withdrawn by the Obama administration would have provided at least 10 lease sales over the same period.
"There is no disputing the fact that our nation's domestic energy production on federal lands is far lower than what was projected before this administration took office, and is trending in the exact opposite direction of the rapid growth we're seeing on private and state lands" Vitter said. "Oil and gas production on federal property is a process that requires leasing, permitting, exploring, more permitting, and then hopefully production. At the leasing and production stages, large sums of monies come into the federal Treasury. But, instead of encouraging production and this revenue, the administration has made it a standard to stymie the process and focus attention on unproven expenditures like offshore wind."
Vitter and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) recently wrote to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to explain the administration's economic reasoning in allowing an offshore lease sale for wind energy in the Atlantic Ocean. The senators' letter notes that that the agency will not allow offshore oil and gas leasing in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and requests data on the economics of the wind lease sale to compare with "the value of a similar lease for oil and gas on equivalent acreage."
Prior to the administration's first offshore drilling lease sale, more than a year after the 2010 moratorium, Vitter highlighted the total drop-off in federal revenue coming in due to the lack of lease sales -- from $10 billion in FY2008 to $0 to that point in 2011.
Vitter has also been urging the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to go back to the previous five-year leasing plan that would open up nearly all of the outer continental shelf for lease sales. Their current offshore plan for the next five years would keep 85 percent of offshore areas closed to new American energy production.