Skip to Content

Press Release

Obama Administration Imposes Five-Year Drilling Ban on Majority of Offshore Areas

After imposing a nearly three-year moratorium on new offshore drilling by discarding the 2010-2015 lease plan that allowed for new development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the Obama Administration announced a draft plan today that closes the majority of the OCS to new energy production through 2017. The Administration’s draft five-year plan prohibits new offshore drilling and only allows lease sales to occur in areas that are already open. The draft plan includes lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic – leaving portions of Alaska and the entire Atlantic and Pacific Coasts off-limits to new energy production and job creation.

“In 2008, a bipartisan agreement was reached to lift the decades-long ban on new offshore drilling and open new areas off the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts. Since President Obama took office, he has systematically taken steps to re-impose an offshore drilling moratorium and today he is one step closer to making that a reality for the next five years,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. “The Obama Administration’s draft plan places some of the most promising energy resources in the world off-limits and indefinitely abandons the scheduled lease sale off the coast of Virginia that was supposed to take place last year.

“No new drilling or new lease sales will occur during President Obama’s term in office – despite the overwhelming support of the American people for new offshore energy production. The President’s plan is to simply say ‘no’ to new energy production and ‘no’ to new American jobs created by new offshore drilling. It’s a plan that is sending American jobs overseas, forfeiting new revenue, and denying access to American energy that would lessen our dependence on hostile Middle Eastern oil.

“Developing the United State’s offshore resources would create over a million jobs, generate billions in revenue and significantly reduce foreign oil imports. It’s been six months since the House has passed bipartisan bills to reverse the Obama moratorium and allow new offshore drilling and the Democrat-controlled Senate has failed to act.”

Offshore Areas Open for Drilling when President Obama Took Office

Click to enlarge image

Offshore Areas Blocked for Drilling under President Obama’s Draft 2012-2017 Plan

Click to enlarge image

Background – Timeline of OCS Leasing and Development:

Beginning in 1981 -

Congress annually passes a moratorium on new OCS development.

1990 -

President George H.W. Bush institutes an Executive Moratorium on OCS leasing (overlapping the annual moratorium imposed by Congress).

July 14, 2008 -

President George W. Bush lifts the Executive ban on OCS leasing.

July 30, 2008 -

President George W. Bush announces the beginning of a new “five-year plan” to provide a blueprint for OCS leasing in the 2010 to 2015 period. This would replace the five-year plan for the 2007-2012 period, which did not provide for any lease sales in areas that were covered by the moratorium.

October 1, 2008 -

Responding to public outcry over high gas prices and mounting pressure from Republican lawmakers, Congress lifts the ban on new oil and gas leasing in the OCS.

January 16, 2009 -

Bush Interior Department issues a Draft Proposed OCS oil and gas leasing program, and solicits comments on all aspects of the plan. The proposal includes 31 OCS lease sales in all or some portion of 12 of the 26 planning areas—4 areas off Alaska, 2 areas off the Pacific coast, 3 areas in the Gulf of Mexico, and 3 areas off the Atlantic coast.

February 10, 2009 -

Secretary Salazar announces he will delay the Bush Administration 5-year plan for oil and natural gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf for six months. He begins a “listening tour” in spite of the fact that the Bush Administration had already solicited public opinion on this plan.

September 17, 2009 -

Secretary Salazar states that the Administration may not complete a new OCS lease plan until 2012.

September 21, 2009 -

The Administration’s extended public comment period on the draft proposed 2010-2015 Outer Continental Shelf plan comes to an end – yet the Administration still makes no announcement regarding the future of offshore drilling.

January 26, 2010 -

The Department of the Interior announces it will delay the Virginia offshore lease sale scheduled for November 2011.

January 27, 2010 -

President Obama mentions offshore drilling in his State of the Union address – leading many to believe he is open to expanding drilling in the OCS.

February 1, 2010 -

President Obama releases his FY 2011 budget proposal that shows revenue from new Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leasing declining from $1.5 billion in 2009 to only $413 million in 2015. The only way revenue would decline is if less of the OCS is offered for leasing for energy production.

February 4, 2010 -

The Wall Street Journal reports that public comments collected by the Department of the Interior ran 2-to-1 in favor of the new 2010-2015 lease plan.

March 3, 2010 -

Secretary Salazar confirms that the Administration will not put a new OCS lease plan in place until 2012, which means no new drilling will take place during President Obama’s term in office.

July, 2010 -

The date new areas would be available for leasing under the original 2010-2015 lease plan if it were not for the “Obama Moratorium,” which has delayed implementation of a new lease plan until 2012.

December 1, 2010 -

Effectively reinstated the ban on offshore drilling, placing the entire Pacific Coast, the entire Atlantic Coast, the Eastern Gulf and parts of Alaska off limits to future energy production until 2017 at the earliest.

November 8, 2011 -

Announces a new draft 2012-2017 lease plan that closes the majority of the OCS to new energy production. The draft plan prohibits new offshore drilling and only allows lease sales to occur in areas that are already open. It includes lease sales in the Western Gulf of Mexico and Alaska – leaving portions of the Arctic and the entire Atlantic and Pacific Coasts off-limits to new energy production and job creation.


Printable PDF of this document