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1) July 8 -- Notice of Availability of the 2023-2028 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Program and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Interior, is announcing the availability of, and requests comments on, the Proposed Program for the 2023-2028 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (2023-2028 Program, National OCS Program, or Program), as well as the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the 2023-2028 Program (Draft Programmatic EIS). Comments should be submitted by October 6, 2022. Dates of virtual public meetings to be held between now and October 6, 2022 will be posted on https://www.BOEM.gov/​National-OCS-Program.

BOEM is responsible for administering the leasing program for oil and gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and advising the Secretary of the Interior on the National OCS Program. The three analytical phases required to develop a new National OCS Program are the (1) Draft Proposed Program (DPP); (2) Proposed Program; and (3) Proposed Final Program (PFP). The 2023-2028 Program (originally proposed as the Draft 2019-2024 Program), once approved, will follow the 2017-2022 Program. The Proposed Program is the second in a series of three proposals made by the Secretary, pursuant to section 18 of the OCS Lands Act, before final action may be taken to approve the 2023-2028 National OCS Program.

After careful consideration of the OCS Lands Act Section 18(a) factors, as well as input from governors and the public, this Proposed Program offers up to ten potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Region Program Area 1 (which contains the Western GOM Planning Area, most of the Central GOM Planning Area, and a small portion of the Eastern GOM Planning Area), and one potential lease sale in the northern portion of the Cook Inlet Planning Area offshore Alaska. Two Subarea Options have been identified that will be analyzed in the PFP and Final Programmatic EIS: a 15-mile no leasing buffer offshore Baldwin County, Alabama, and a targeted leasing approach in the GOM Program Area 1. There are no potential lease sales scheduled for planning areas in the Pacific Region, Atlantic Region, GOM Program Area 2 (which contains most of the Eastern GOM Planning Area), or Alaska Region (other than Cook Inlet). During the development of the National OCS Program, once a defined area is included in the National OCS Program, it becomes known as a program area. Program areas are therefore the portions of the original 26 OCS planning areas that remain under consideration for leasing during the National OCS Program development process.

The schedule shown in Table 1 reflects the potential lease sales for the 2023-2028 Proposed Program. Figures 1 and 2 depict the program areas included in the 2023-2028 Proposed Program.

The size, timing, location, and number of potential lease sales in this Proposed Program will be robustly analyzed in the PFP and Final Programmatic EIS and may be further narrowed or excluded. The Secretary is requesting public and stakeholder input on the Proposed Program to inform the PFP and Final Programmatic EIS analyses.

BOEM also seeks feedback and input on additional data sources, reasonable assumptions and methodological approaches which could help BOEM quantitatively and/or qualitatively estimate how demand for OCS oil and gas and energy market substitutions might differ in the future under various climate pathways that would be required to reach net zero domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as President Biden and the parties to the Paris Agreement have staked out as objectives.

Chapter 5 of the Proposed Program describes BOEM's current approach to analyzing net benefits. Section 5.3.4 provides a qualitative description of the likely impacts and changes to the net benefits that could result under a hypothetical net-zero scenario. BOEM seeks input and feedback on this approach as it continues to refine its analysis going forward.

This Proposed Program will be analyzed to inform the Secretary's PFP, which will be published with a Final Programmatic EIS and be provided to the President and Congress. Upon consideration of the PFP and Final Programmatic EIS, and comments received as part of the National OCS Program development process, the Secretary will approve a 2023-2028 Program, determining the program areas to be potentially leased in the 2023-2028 timeframe.

Draft Programmatic EIS and the National OCS Program for 2023-2028: https://www.boem.gov/National-OCS-Oil-and-Gas-Leasing-Program-for-2023-2028/
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-14524

2) July 1 -- Interior Department Invites Public Comment on Proposed Five Year Program for Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing: Proposed Program removes federal waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts from consideration (news release)

As the second step in a three-step planning process, the Department of the Interior today issued the “Proposed Program” for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for years 2023-2028. . . .

Release of the Proposed Program follows the 2018 publication of the Draft Proposed Program (DPP) and is the second of three required steps before the Secretary of the Interior can approve the Final Program. Following publication in the Federal Register, the Interior Department will seek public comment on the Proposed Program and the accompanying Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).

The DPP released in 2018 by the previous administration proposed 47 lease sales across 25 of 26 OCS planning areas. Under the Proposed Program announced today, the Secretary significantly narrowed the area considered for leasing to the Gulf of Mexico and Cook Inlet, where there is existing production and infrastructure.

Inclusion of an area or a potential lease sale in the Proposed Program does not mean that it will be included in the final National OCS Program. However, any area or sale not included in the Proposed Program will not be considered for inclusion in the final 2023–2028 National OCS Program.

Following publication of the DPP during the previous administration, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) considered more than 2 million comments from the public and stakeholders, including governors, federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies, energy and non-energy industries, Tribal governments, non-governmental organizations including environmental advocacy groups, and the public.

The Proposed Program includes no more than ten potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and one potential lease sale in the northern portion of the Cook Inlet Planning Area offshore Alaska, which is the same as in the Five-Year Program finalized in 2016. These potential lease sales, including in the GOM, could be further refined and targeted, based on public input and analysis, prior to program approval. The Final Program also may include fewer potential lease sales, including no lease sales.

Following this opportunity for public comment, BOEM will prepare a Proposed Final Program and Final PEIS, which will include analysis of the size, timing, location, and number of potential lease sales in the Proposed Program. Those may be further narrowed or areas could be excluded. There is then a minimum 60-day period before the Secretary can approve the program and finalize the Record of Decision.  

The federal government cannot conduct offshore lease sales without the development and approval of a Final Program consistent with Section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). OCSLA 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. There is no requirement under OCSLA that mandates any sales in any locations, nor does the law prescribe any specific timing for the development of a five-year plan.

When approving a National OCS Program, the OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary to consider eight factors, including:

Geographical, geological, and ecological characteristics of the OCS regions.
Equitable sharing of developmental benefits and environmental risks among regions.
The relative needs of national and regional energy markets.
Other uses of ocean resources and the OCS.
Expressed industry interest in oil and gas development.
Laws, goals and policies of affected states as identified by governors.
Environmental sensitivity and marine productivity of different areas of the OCS.
Environmental and predictive information for different areas of the OCS.

The Proposed Program reflects the Secretary’s careful consideration of these factors.
 
https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/interior-department-invites-public-comment-proposed-five-year-program-offshore-oil-0

3) National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2023-2028
 
On July 1, 2022, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the availability of the Proposed Program for the 2023-2028 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program), as well as the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the 2023-2028 Program (Draft PEIS) for public comments.

The Proposed Program includes no more than ten potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and an option for one potential lease sale in the northern portion of the Cook Inlet of Alaska. No lease sales are proposed for the other Alaska planning areas, nor for the Atlantic or Pacific planning areas during the five-year period. Click on the “Proposed Lease Schedule” tab above for the proposed schedule.

Inclusion of an area in the Proposed Program is not a final indication that it will be included in the approved National OCS Program or offered in a lease sale. However, any area or sale not included in the Proposed Program will not be considered for inclusion in the 2023–2028 National OCS Program.

The Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Proposed Program and Draft PEIS will publish in the Federal Register later this month for a 90-day public comment period.  Please note: Publication of the NOA in the Federal Register will formally start the public comment process. Until then, comments cannot be accepted on regulations.gov. BOEM will send an update to let the public know when the NOA will publish.

BOEM will host four virtual meetings to obtain public input. Meeting times and registration information will be provided soon. [Dates: August 23, 25, 29, 31] These meetings are open-house style where you can speak live with BOEM staff to get your questions answered, as well as to provide written comments.

National OCS Program 2023-2028 webpage: https://www.boem.gov/oil-gas-energy/national-program/national-ocs-oil-and-gas-leasing-program-2023-2028

Proposed Program for 2023-2028 https://www.boem.gov/oil-gas-energy/national-program/2023-2028-proposed-program
Draft PEIS for 2023-2028:
Volume 1 https://www.boem.gov/oil-gas-energy/national-program/2023-2028-national-ocs-oil-gas-leasing-draft-peis-vol1  
Volume 2 - Appendix  https://www.boem.gov/oil-gas-energy/national-program/2023-2028-national-ocs-oil-gas-leasing-draft-peis-vol2

U.S. OCS GOM Region Oil and Gas Production Forecast 2022-2031  https://www.boem.gov/regions/gulf-mexico-ocs-region/us-ocs-gomr-oil-and-gas-production-forecast-2022-2031
Draft Economic Analysis Methodology for the 2023-2028 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program https://www.boem.gov/oil-gas-energy/national-program/national-ocs-oil-and-gas-leasing-program-2023-2028#:~:text=Draft%20Economic%20Analysis%20Methodology%20for%20the%202023%2D2028%20National%20Outer%20Continental%20Shelf%20Oil%20and%20Gas%20Leasing%20Program

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