Date: Friday, September 29, 2023
Contact: [email protected]
WASHINGTON — Consistent with the requirements of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) concerning offshore conventional and renewable energy leasing, the Department of the Interior today released the Proposed Final Program and Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 2024–2029 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program).
The Proposed Final Program includes a maximum of three potential oil and gas lease sales – the fewest oil and gas lease sales in history – in the Gulf of Mexico Program Area scheduled in 2025, 2027 and 2029. In compliance with the terms of the IRA, these three proposed lease sales are the minimum number that will enable the Interior Department to continue to expand its offshore wind leasing program through 2030.
The reduction of the next National OCS Program to a maximum of three potential lease sales will bring the Federal offshore oil and gas program in line with the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and meet the IRA’s requirements for future offshore renewable energy leasing. The areas considered for leasing and number of potential lease sales in the 2024-2029 Proposed Final Program have been significantly narrowed from the previous administration’s original proposal of 47 lease sales off all coastal areas in the U.S. over a five-year period. The previous proposal presented risks to local coastal economies – particularly for communities along the east and west coast where offshore oil and gas development has not been authorized in decades, if ever.
The IRA does not allow the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to issue a lease for offshore wind development unless the agency has offered at least 60 million acres for oil and gas leasing on the OCS in the previous year. The three potential sales in the Proposed Final Program will enable the Department’s offshore wind energy program to continue to issue offshore wind leases, ensuring continued progress towards the administration’s goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to building a clean energy future that ensures America’s energy independence,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “The Proposed Final Program, which represents the smallest number of oil and gas lease sales in history, sets a course for the Department to support the growing offshore wind industry and protect against the potential for environmental damage and adverse impacts to coastal communities.”
The National OCS Program released today will limit leasing to the Gulf of Mexico OCS, where there is existing production and infrastructure. This area includes the portions of the Western, Central and Eastern GOM planning areas not currently under presidential withdrawal.
Section 18 of the OCS Lands Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to establish a schedule of lease sales for a five-year period by balancing specific factors of OCS regions and selecting the size, timing and location of OCS lease sales that best meet regional and national energy needs and considers the impact of oil and gas exploration on the marine, coastal and human environments.
Before finalizing the new National OCS Program, BOEM carefully considered the more than 760,000 comments received in response to the Proposed Program and Draft Programmatic EIS.