Maintain safe and environmentally sound domestic energy supplies and alternative fuel sources.
The outer continental shelf contains significant oil and gas resources that are vital to our domestic energy supplies and national security needs, contributing 22% of domestic oil and 27% of natural gas production. Natural gas reserves in the outer continental shelf are particularly important because natural gas has major environmental benefits over other fossil fuels. Cleaner burning, it is increasingly being used in the conversion of electrical power-generating stations from oil- or coal- fired facilities.
The federal share of offshore oil and gas revenues averages about $4 billion a year. Much of the existing leasing and development occurs in the central and western Gulf of Mexico. In recent years, the rapid development of deep-water technology has led to a strong move by industry to both lease and operate in ever-deeper waters. Over 4,000 platforms are operating in waters up to 3,900 feet deep, and over 30 rigs are drilling in water deeper than 1,000 feet, including one deeper than 7,700 feet. By the end of 2000, production from Gulf deep-water fields is expected to account for one-half of the total Gulf of Mexico outer continental shelf oil production and one-third of the total outer continental shelf gas production.
Advances in technology have made offshore oil and gas production cleaner and safer than ever. Since 1980, 6.9 billion barrels of outer continental shelf oil have been produced with a spillage rate of less than 0. 001% . Despite these advances, however, environmental concerns have led to congressional and executive moratoria since 1981, and many of our coastal areas are now closed to new leasing through the year 2012. In addition, new leases are permanently banned in National Marine Sanctuaries. Many coastal states and communities object to oil and gas development off their coastlines. One way that coastal states and the public can participate in decisions on federally regulated offshore activity is through the coastal zone consistency process, which allows them to review and comment on proposed projects or permits that may affect state coastal management programs. Federal actions likely to affect any land/water use or other natural resources in the coastal zone must be consistent with the states enforceable policies.
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