California Waters Spared New Energy Leases

California’s offshore waters will be excluded from any new oil or gas lease sales per a draft of a five-year Oil and Gas Leasing Program announced by the U.S. Department of Interior on Tuesday. The plan, which would significantly open up new drilling in parts of the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, creates a schedule to cover the specifics of lease sales from 2017 to 2022. Officials called the proposal balanced because it would make available undiscovered resources while protecting environmentally-sensitive areas.

Pacific Coast states have long opposed offshore oil and gas development. In July, Rep. Lois Capps spearheaded a letter that was signed by a few dozen California members of Congress, urging the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to prohibit any new lease sales in the planning areas along California’s Outer Continental Shelf. Capps said in a statement Tuesday she is pleased the federal agencies heeded their request.

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