U.S. Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) introduced legislation to replace the Obama administration's 5-year plan for energy production and leasing on the outer continental shelf with a 5-year plan that is more in line with the energy and economic needs of the United States.
"Obama's five-year lease plan for offshore production is only half of what the previous plan was - moving us in the complete wrong direction of where our energy production should be headed," Vitter said. "The fall-off from the leasing and permitting actions of the Obama administration is very significant, and it's projected to get even worse. Our bill is a common-sense approach that will increase the areas available to sell leases offshore, and of course will put a substantial amount of revenue back into the federal treasury."
"On the same day of the health care ruling, the Administration quietly issued an offshore energy proposal that would place a virtual moratorium over 85 percent of the nation's offshore areas," Sessions said. "Offshore energy production provides Americans with good-paying private-sector jobs; produces substantial royalties for the federal government and the states; reduces our trade imbalance; and puts an end to the huge wealth transfer from America to competitors oversees. We need to take bold action to harness America's vast energy resources, but the Administration clearly has a different vision."
The 5-year plan implemented by President Obama covers the years 2012-2017. During that time the government would have to hold an annual lease sale in the western Gulf, which has already been completed, and lease sales in the central Gulf starting in spring 2013. But new tracts in the eastern Gulf wouldn't open up for lease sales until 2014.
The Vitter-Sessions bill would essentially restore the bipartisan 5-year plan introduced in 2008 that allowed lease sales and production in most of the Outer Continental Shelf. Their bill opens more areas in the Gulf for energy production and would also allow production in areas of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as well as Alaska. These areas were declared off limits in President Obama's plan.
In November 2011, Vitter wrote to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar warning of the negative economic impact of moving forward with this 5-year plan and highlight specific energy concerns.