US Interior Department Details Strategy for Offshore Energy

Saying he needed to restore order to a broken process, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar this week announced his strategy for developing an offshore energy plan that includes renewable energy.

On Friday, January 16, its last business day in office, the Bush Administration proposed a new five year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing. The proposal was actually published in the Federal Register on January 21, the day after the Obama Administration took office. The deadline for public comment that the Bush Administration established – March 23, 2009 – does not provide enough time for public review or for wise decisions on behalf of taxpayers, the Secretary said.

The Secretary also said that the Departmentt will build a framework for offshore renewable energy development, so that the it can incorporate the significant potential for wind, wave and ocean current energy into its offshore energy strategy.

“The Bush Administration was so intent on opening new areas for oil and gas offshore that it torpedoed offshore renewable energy efforts,” Salazar said. “I intend to issue a final rulemaking for offshore renewables in the coming months, so that potential developers know the rules of the road. This rulemaking will allow us to move from the ‘oil and gas only’ approach of the previous Administration to the comprehensive energy plan that we need.”

Salazar directed the United States Geological Survey, the Minerals Management Service, and other departmental scientists to assemble all the information available about the offshore resources – conventional and renewable – along with information about potential impacts. The report is due in 45 days.

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