Following up on the Interior Department's recent announcement that lease terms in the Gulf will be dramatically shortened, a letter from the agency made public on February 12 suggests that Sec. Salazar is well on his way to ensuring that no offshore energy exploration can take place in the Atlantic until at least 2014 -- even as it works furiously to "fast track" permits and leases important to the wind and solar industry.
Subsequent to the release of this letter, Institute for Energy Research (IER) vice-president Dan Kish released the following statement:
"What this letter suggests is that Sec. Salazar isn't looking to kick the can down the road when it comes to responsible offshore exploration -- he's looking to take that can, crush it, and then shut down the road altogether. Despite the overwhelming majority of Americans supporting robust energy development off our coasts, this Administration continues to view our domestic energy resources as an environmental liability, not the job-creating assets that they are."
In particular, Mr. Kish pointed to a letter from the Interior Department dated February 3 in which a prospective timeline is laid out for conducting a Programmatic Environment Impact Statement (PEIS) on the Atlantic OCS. A PEIS must be completed prior to seismic testing taking place -- a process that will ultimately determine where oil and gas resources are located beneath the seafloor. In addition to the PEIS, additional permits and environmental analyses must take place prior to holding a lease sale.
"Tossing a few acres up for lease, as this Administration has done, and implementing a robust plan to safely expand domestic oil and gas production are two radically different things. This decision to slow-walk development in the Atlantic is perfectly consistent with the administration’s record on these issues -- and perfectly inconsistent with its rhetoric.
"Sec. Salazar is breaking all speed records to deploy the most expensive and unreliable forms of energy that exist, while dragging his feet on the type of energy that makes America run. He is establishing a road map that sends us off an energy cliff, at the expense of American jobs and economic growth."
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