Oct 24, 2017

Zinke announces largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has announced a proposal for the largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history, totaling 76.9 million acres on the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Why it matters, per Axios' Amy Harder: Offering lease sales of federal waters and lands is one of the easiest and simplest ways the Trump administration can show it's supportive of the oil and gas industry.
  • But, but, but: Persistently low oil prices make new, expensive offshore drilling projects a lot less attractive to the industry than if prices were high. This is more rhetoric than substantive change. Also, the Obama administration actually initially planned this sale a few years ago.

Planned for March 2018, the proposed Lease Sale 250 includes regulations to protect species in the area, biologically sensitive resources, and to avoid any other potential consequences of oil and gas development, per the department's press release. The terms are not yet final.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said: "In order to strengthen America's energy dominance, we must anticipate and plan for our needs for decades to come...the administration's decision to move forward with the largest offshore lease sale in our nation's history is a key part of that effort."

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