Session Topic

April 25- Oil and Gas Exploration on Georges Bank

Click here to read the themes raised by the panel discussion on April 25

Panelists:

George Dellagiarino, a geologist with the US Minerals Management Service
Vivian Newman, National Marine Wildlife and Habitat Committee, Sierra Club

Update: Mr. Dellagiarino has had to cancel.

Last year Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, reviving the possibility of oil and gas exploration in New England waters. When the issue was last raised in New England in the 1970s, a firestorm of protest erupted, leading to a long-standing moratorium on leasing. Congress is now considering a measure that would repeal the moratorium and allow drilling for natural gas.

Reading:

This Congressional Research Service Issue Brief (Order Code IB10149) titled "Outer Continental Shelf: Debate Over Oil and Gas Leasing and Revenue Sharing, Updated October 27, 2005" offers a concise background on the issue, though it is somewhat outdated. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 did pass with a provision requiring a new inventory of oil and gas resources. This mandate wasn't fully funded by Congress, but the Minerals Management Service has already released a new inventory (see next reading). http://www.cnie.org/NLE/CRSreports/05oct/IB10149.pdf

Sierra Club's website on offshore oil and gas issues. http://www.sierraclub.org/wildlands/coasts/threats.asp

Conservation Law Foundation's webpage on oil and gas leasing includes important background on the conflict over oil and gas leasing on Georges Bank. http://www.clf.org/programs/cases.asp?id=809

Minerals Management Service Offshore Leasing Site: http://www.mms.gov/offshore/Leasing.htm. Use this site to get familiare with the leasing program and the various terms and mechanisms.

Then visit the MMS page on the 5-year leasing plan, http://www.mms.gov/5-year/2007-2012main.htm, including a link to the "Draft Proposed Program Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program 2007-2012." Read at least the introduction, pages 1-9 of the draft program, and take a look at the tables throughout the document. The MMS regards this document as their new inventory required under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Finally, visit the MMS site on the Atlantic OCS area: http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/offshore/atlocs/atlocs.html

John Kerry sits on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and is the ranking member of the echnology, Innovation, and Competitiveness Subcommittee. Several press statements on this page http://kerry.senate.gov/v3/cfm/press-statement.cfm discuss Kerry's views on US energy policy.

Additional resources:

Congressional Brochure, "Impacts of the Energy Policy Act of 2005." http://energy.senate.gov/public/_files/ImpactsoftheEnergyBillbrochure.pdf

Text of the Energy Policy Act of 2005: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ058.109

Related Herald-Tribune article on a proposed change to rules on disposal of offshore oil rigs: http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060412/NEWS/604120566

 

Teacher resources: (Note: Consider extending these activities to examine oil and gas leasing issues in the Atlantic.)

"The Will to Drill?" New York Times Daily Lesson Plan, Monday, March 21, 2005 by Annissa Hambouz and Tanya Yasmin Chin: http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/20050321monday.html

"Bureau Stats: Investigating the Departments of the Executive Branch" New York Times Daily Lesson Plan, Monday, July 26, 2004 by Annissa Hambouz and Tanya Yasmin Chin: :http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/20040726monday.html

"The Oily Grail": Debating the Current Season for Oil Exploration in Alaska's North Slope" New York Times Daily Lesson Plan, Tuesday, January 13, 2004 by Georgia Scurletis and Tanya Yasmin Chin: http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/20040113tuesday.html

 

Themes from the April 25th session on Oil and gas exploration on Georges Bank

At each session, we note themes arising in the panel discussion in four categories: problem definition, goals (individual, organizational and for the process itself), sources of conflict, and potential solutions. The list is meant to aid in further discussion on the topic and is not meant to be exhaustive or definitive. Themes were noted by Saving Seas instructor Tora Johnson drawing upon her notes on the discussion.

Problems
Need to develop internal sources of energy
Need to protect ocean shelf resources
Law mandates expedited development
Lack of transparency in Minerals Mgt Service

Goals
Conservation of marine life, ecosystems, and ocean-dependent economies
Energy security

Sources of Conflict
Rising energy prices
Continued dependence on foreign oil, especially Middle Eastern
Intransigent and closed federal agencies
Lack of national discourse on energy and agreement on priorities
Lack of agreement among NGOs on priorities
Differing priorities among states
Growing public complacency in areas under moratorium
No studies of potential impact in many areas, especially those under moratorium
Congressional mandates do not consider agency’s capabilities and priorities
Congressional mandates do not adequately consider environmental concerns

Solutions
National energy agenda that considers impacts of offshore energy extraction and sets priorities for conservation, renewable energy, and oil and gas resources
Continued moratorium
Greater transparency in Minerals Management Agency
More opportunities for NGOs to participate rather than litigate
Better communication between agency and Congress

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