Three dozen Republican senators sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke Wednesday supporting a plan that would increase access and development of offshore drilling along the U.S. east coast.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas signed the letter along with 34 other lawmakers.
Under President Donald Trump’s Executive Order, the Department of the Interior is considering replacing an Obama-era Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) oil and gas leasing plan that has closed off 94 percent of federally-controlled areas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
“It shall be the policy of the United States to encourage energy exploration and production, including on the Outer Continental Shelf, in order to maintain the Nation’s position as a global energy leader and foster energy security and resilience for the benefit of the American people, while ensuring that any such activity is safe and environmentally responsible,” the order states.
The new plan being considered by Zinke and BOEM, with input from Congress, would open much of the OCS for offshore drilling.
“Offshore development has undergone rapid technological innovation ensuring it is cheaper, safer, and provides access to previously out-of-reach areas,” the letter states. “Offshore leasing benefits the economies of all of the states, helps reduce the federal deficit, provides affordable energy to families and businesses, and strengthens our national security.”
The OCS contains nearly 90 billion barrels of oil and more than 330 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to BOEM.
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