US President Barack Obama has announced plans to exclude waters off the Atlantic coast from drilling due to existing market dynamics, local opposition and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses.
US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) director Abigail Ross Hopper announced the proposal for the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-22.
The latest programme assesses 13 potential lease sales in six planning areas, ten potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three potential sales off the coast of Alaska and excludes lease sales in the mid and South Atlantic Program Area.
The decision reverses a proposal announced in January 2015 for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf. The plan covers all potential leasing from 2017 to 2022 and includes parts of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.
Jewell said: "This is a balanced proposal that protects sensitive resources and supports safe and responsible development of the nation’s domestic energy resources to create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
"The proposal focuses potential lease sales in areas with the highest resource potential, greatest industry interest, and established infrastructure."
Natural Resources Defense Council president Rhea Suh said: "By dropping the Atlantic from oil and gas leasing, the administration is standing up to big oil and protecting our coastal communities that rightly fear a BP-style disaster.
"Next, the president should finish the job, honor his historic climate agenda, and protect future generations by using his authority to permanently end the threat of drilling in the Atlantic and the Arctic."
The proposed programme includes ten sales in the Gulf of Mexico and evaluates one potential sale each in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, and Cook Inlet planning areas.