Comment now on proposed offshore drilling plan

Deadline for responses for 2017-2022 offshore program is Aug. 17

Comments are being accepted through Aug. 17 on the proposed new five-year national offshore oil and gas leasing program in the Outer Continental Shelf, including offshore exploration in the Alaska Arctic.

The notice was published on Jul 3 in the Federal Register, and more information is available online at

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales in federal waters, indicating the size, timing and location of auctions to best meet national energy needs for the five year period, following its approval.

The online scientific journal Archives of Environmental Toxicology ( published on July 10 a special issue devoted to monitoring and evaluating the effects and repercussions of oil spills, including research on identification of new approaches for employing advanced imaging techniques to remotely sense spilled oil.

Oceana, the international advocacy organization dedicated to ocean conservation, notes that it takes years, if not decades to fully understand the lasting impacts of an oil spill, and is voicing objections to the proposed five year plan.

“Oil was still being found in large quantities more than a decade after the Exxon Valdez spill,” said Susan Murray, Oceana’s deputy vice president for the Pacific.


“But oil spills don’t just impact marine life. It has been seven years since the BP disaster wreaked havoc on the Gulf of Mexico and we’re still learning about its toll on human health and coastal economics.

“It’s absurd that the federal government is rushing to expand dirty and dangerous drilling  into areas like the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans,” she said. “The studies (published in Archives of Environmental Toxicology)  reinforce how devastating, wide-ranging and unexpected the consequences of oil spills can be to marine life, coastal communities and economies.”