Opportunities To Resolve Some Basic Conflicts over Outer Continential Shelf Leasing and Development

EMD-78-39: Published: Mar 16, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 1978.

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Development of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and natural gas resources has received public criticism in all coastal areas during the past several years. Conflicts over OCS development stem from questions about initial development and the needs of parties affected by the Department of the Interior's plans.

The Department of the Interior has made reasonably good progress in opening the OCS planning and management process to greater public participation. In recent lease sale planning, the Department has provided the States opportunities to influence leasing decisions and has limited leasing as a result of State and local concerns. One prevalent weakness is that affected parties have not been assured that their involvement and input in lease scheduling, tract selection, and environmental monitoring have been, or will be, given serious consideration by the Department. Specific concerns involve: how monitoring should be accomplished, how the monitoring results will be used and by whom, and what parties will have access to monitoring data as a basis for informed decisionmaking. Another weakness causing controversy involves the availability and adequacy of information supporting leasing decisions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should: publish regulations which provide opportunities for State and local participation at all key points in the leasing process, including the opportunity for formulating lease planning schedules and tract selection and the opportunity for participation in environmental monitoring efforts. He should insure the environmental baseline and monitoring program effectiveness by establishing: a minimum timeframe for commencing monitoring studies, standardized sampling and analyzing techniques, organizational responsibility for making and acting on recommendations for changes, and regulations governing access to baseline and monitoring results. The Secretary of the Interior should also: direct a geological exploration program as recommended in previous reports; and establish procedures restricting confidential data to the absolute minimum and improve information interchange between Federal, State, and local governments.

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