Five-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Many steps are involved before an area is included in a Five-Year Program and eventually proposed for leasing, as required by Section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The public is provided with a number of opportunities to comment on the proposed activity as well as on the Environmental Impact Statement prepared for a Five-Year Program -- as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

By law, the federal government must take eight factors into consideration as this program is developed:

  • Geographical, geological and ecological characteristics of planning areas
  • A balance between the benefits of oil and gas development and environmental risks among regions;
  • Location of areas considered for leasing with respect to regional and national energy markets and needs
  • Location of areas considered for leasing with respect to other uses of the sea and seabed
  • Interest expressed by potential oil and gas producers
  • The laws, goals and policies of affected states
  • Environmental sensitivity and marine productivity, and
  • Environmental studies and impact analyses, including findings of Environmental Impact Statements prepared for a Five Year Program