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NEWS BULLETIN

February 10, 2009 --- Vol. 15, No. 15February 2009

DOI announces extended comment period for five-year OCS plan

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today that the Department of the Interior is extending the public comment period for the draft new five-year outer continental shelf oil and gas lease sale plan that the U.S. Minerals Management Service had announced in the dying days of the Bush administration. DOI is extending the comment period by 180 days to Dec. 23

“Today I am once again taking steps to change the way that the Department of the Interior does business so that we can fulfill President Obama’s commitment to make government that is open, inclusive and makes decisions based on sound science and the public interest,” Salazar said.

The schedule that MMS had announced under the Bush administration required public comments on the draft plan by March 23.

“In my view it was a headlong rush of the worst kind,” Salazar said. “It was a process rigged to force a hurried decision based on bad information.”

And as part of the review process for the plan Salazar has instructed the U.S. Geological Survey and MMS to provide within 45 days a report on potential energy resources in the U.S. outer continental shelf, including both conventional and renewable energy. Following publication of that report DOI will convene meetings in Alaska, on the Pacific coast, on the Atlantic coast and on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to gather ideas from all interested parties on how to move forward with energy development on the outer continental shelf.

Salazar said that DOI welcomes the contribution that oil and gas companies make to U.S. energy supplies and that there may turn out to be “additional areas” where oil and gas resources need to be developed. However, the next plan for oil and gas leasing must form part of a broader U.S. energy plan that include renewable energy and leads to U.S. energy independence.

The existing outer continental shelf leasing plan that runs from 2007 to 2012 will remain in operation, Salazar said.

DNR opens the upper foothills for tundra travel

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources announced today that it is opening the Upper Foothills Tundra Opening Area for tundra travel. Conditions in the area have met the opening criteria of a 9-inch snow depth and temperatures below minus 5 degrees Celsius at a 30-centimeter depth, DNR said.

“This opening applies only to those operators who have valid off-road vehicle travel permits to operate on state-owned lands on the North Slope,” DNR said.

All state land on the North Slope is now open for tundra travel.

See full stories in the Feb. 15 issue of Petroleum News, which will be online at noon Friday, Feb. 13, at www.petroleumnews.com

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