About the Process

About the Process

  • BOEM manages the responsible exploration and development of offshore energy and marine mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), including leasing, economic analysis, resource evaluation, and environmental analysis.

    The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) established that the Secretary of the Interior must prepare an oil and gas leasing program every five years, showing the size, timing, and location of potential leasing activity as precisely as possible. The process begins with a Request for Information and culminates with a Proposed Final Program, with drafts and comment periods in between.

    Because oil and gas exploration on the OCS may impact the environment, the economy, and numerous stakeholders, the OCSLA process requires consideration of environmental resources and potential impacts. BOEM has prepared a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to address the potential environmental effects of any activity that may occur as result of the 2017-2022 Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

    In order to develop a Programmatic EIS that reflects the best available science, technology, research, and data, BOEM conducted a public scoping process to solicit input from any and all stakeholders and communities that may be affected, positively or negatively, by OCS oil and gas development activity in potentially affected areas.

    Based on the information received during the scoping process, BOEM developed a Draft Programmatic EIS that analyzed all relevant impacting factors and environmental resources that could be affected by the proposed action. Additionally, the Draft Programmatic EIS analyzed alternatives and mitigation measures that could avoid or minimize any potential impacts.

    BOEM collected public input on the Draft Programmatic EIS during a 45-day period from March 18th through May 2nd, 2016. BOEM considered the additional information provided in preparing the Final Programmatic EIS. The Secretary of the Interior considered the analyses in the Programmatic EIS in making her decision on the schedule of leases put forward in the Proposed Final Program.

    The Final Programmatic EIS was published on November 18th, 2016 and is available here.


    In its Proposed Program released on March 15, 2016, BOEM proposed a schedule of lease sales in the following OCS Program Areas: the Gulf of Mexico Program Area; and the Alaska Program Areas (Cook Inlet, Chukchi Sea, and Beaufort Sea). The lease sale schedule in the Proposed Program is the “major federal action” that is analyzed in the Final Programmatic EIS. These analyses informed the decision made in the Proposed Final Program, released on November 18th, 2016.

    Areas identified in the Proposed Program decision and analyzed in the Final Programmatic EIS

 Alaska Program Areas  Gulf of Mexico Program Areas