This week, Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) will participate at public hearings in Tallahassee and Panama City Beach hosted by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which is a division within the U.S. Department of the Interior. BOEM has completed a draft environmental impact statement for two proposed oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico's Eastern Planning Area and is seeking public comment on the document.
Lease Sales 225 and 226, scheduled for 2014 and 2016, are part of the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program:2012-2017 (Five Year Program). The Five Year Program makes all areas with the highest-known resource potential available for oil and gas leasing in order to further reduce America's dependence on overseas oil.
BOEM is holding public hearings to solicit comments on the environmental impact statement from interested citizens and organizations. Comments will be used to prepare the final environmental impact statement for these proposed Eastern Planning Area oil and gas lease sales. Three hearings will be held: on Tuesday, March 26, in Tallahassee at 1:00 p.m. EST at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1330 Blairstone Road; and on Wednesday, March 27, in Panama City Beach at 1:00 p.m. CST and again at 6:00 p.m. CST at the Wyndham Bay Point Resort, 4114 Jan Cooley Drive.
Consumer Energy Alliance-Florida Executive Director Kevin Doyle prepared the following comments for the Tallahassee and Panama City Beach public hearings:
"As an advocate for consumers, CEA supports offshore energy exploration and production in the eastern planning areas of the Gulf of Mexico. While CEA encourages the development of renewable energy resources, we believe that continued and expanded oil and gas exploration and production is vital to maintaining a reliable energy supply for consumers, reducing our dependence on oil imports, and growing the economy. Utilizing all available domestic oil and gas resources will bring energy prices down for all American consumers and businesses – allowing them to save money, grow their businesses, and create jobs. "
In addition to creating jobs, offshore oil and gas development provides substantial government revenue through an expanded tax base and royalty payments. In 2009, offshore oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico generated almost $70 billion of economic value and nearly 400,000 jobs. That same year, the industry provided about $20 billion in revenues to federal, state and local governments through royalties, bonuses and tax collections. According to Wood Mackenzie, oil and natural gas development in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico could create 100,000 new jobs in Florida alone.
In 2012, the United States consumed 18.5 million barrels of petroleum products a day, making the U.S. one of the world’s largest petroleum consumers. The United States consumes more energy from petroleum than from any other energy source. Future Eastern Gulf of Mexico energy exploration and production could add significant domestic supplies to help offset the need for overseas imports. It is important that we allow access now because it will years to explore and develop the energy before it can be delivered to consumers.
The Environmental Impact Statement concludes that any environmental impact from offshore oil and gas development in these proposed areas would be minimal if all existing regulatory requirements are met. In the draft EIS, the BOEM examines the potential impact to water quality, air quality, wetlands, marine life, and coastal barriers, among other areas, and each time concludes that given the type and level of activity anticipated, the local environment will not be adversely affected. The draft EIS notes that myriad advancements in technology, practice and regulation following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill will further minimize the potential impact of offshore oil and gas development.
Consumer Energy Alliance encourages the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to proceed in a way that allows for the greatest economic benefit to American energy consumers. This means significant access to the eastern planning areas of the Gulf of Mexico for safe and responsible energy exploration and production. Thank you again for allowing us to be here today.
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