During her oral testimony on U.S. Department of the Interior Fiscal Year 2023 budget priorities before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and National Resources on May 19, 2022, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that Interior will release its "Proposed Program" - the next step in developing a new five-year offshore energy leasing plan - by June 30, 2022. This is the same day that the current five-year leasing plan expires.
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) requires Interior to "prepare and periodically revise, and maintain an oil and gas leasing program to implement the policies of [OCSLA]."1The five-year leasing plan "shall consist of a schedule of proposed lease sales indicating, as precisely as possible, the size, timing, and location of leasing activity which [Interior] determines will best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following its approval or reapproval."2;The five-year plan can be reviewed and revised by Interior at any time, but it is the first vital step toward holding individual offshore lease sales.
Recent Interior Statements
Even after the development of a five-year leasing plan, Interior is not required to hold the individual lease sales included in the plan. Indeed, in a press release issued on May 19, Interior made clear that despite Haaland's announcement of the release of the next five-year plan, the "Proposed Program [for the five-year plan] is not a decision to issue specific leases or to authorize any drilling or development." The five-year plan requires public input and congressional review. As a result, the earliest a new five-year plan can be in place is November or December 2022, making it entirely possible that 2022 will be the first year since 1958 that no new offshore leases will be offered by Interior.
1. 43 U.S.C. §1344.
2. 43 U.S.C. § 1344(a).
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