U.S. Interior Dept to Release Offshore Drilling Blueprint

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones), Mar. 3, 2010

The U.S. federal government aims to release this month two separate plans for drilling in U.S. coastal waters that would cover the years through mid-2017, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday.

Oil and gas companies have been pressing the Obama administration to issue the 2007-2012 blueprint, which was invalidated by a federal appeals court last year.

The court said that the Bush administration hadn't conducted an adequate review of the environmental impact in the Beaufort, Bering and Chukchi seas off the Alaskan coast. The court later clarified its decision and said that sales in areas outside Alaska could move forward.

Speaking to reporters after testifying on Capitol Hill, Salazar said that "our hope is to be able to announce a plan both for the current five-year plan which is under litigation" as "well as well as with respect to the future plan."

He said that the new blueprint would cover the five years through mid-2017.

Copyright (c) 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.