2007-2012 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program

The 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil & Gas Program for 2007-2012 was enacted on July 1, 2007. See Proposed Final Program document, which describes the proposed final decision and the analyses on which the proposed final and final decisions were based. The 5-year lease sale schedule in the April 2007 PFP was approved without revision on June 29, 2007, after the mandatory minimum 60-day period following submission to the President and Congress.

On July 2, 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit for violations under the OCS Lands Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, followed by the Native Village of Point Hope, Alaska, in August 2007. These cases were consolidated. On April 17, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Court) remanded the 2007-2012 Program through court order, requiring the Interior Department to "conduct a more complete comparative analysis of the environmental sensitivity of different areas." The Court found the Department failed to properly analyze the environmental sensitivity of different areas of the OCS, thus hindering Interior’s ability to comply with the balancing requirement specified in the OCS Lands Act, which directs the Secretary of Interior to consider "the relative environmental sensitivity and marine productivity of the different areas of the outer Continental Shelf." On July 28, 2009, the Court stayed its mandate for the Department to conduct the expanded analysis and for the Secretary to rebalance the program using the new analysis along with the other analyses and information. The Court also limited its order to three areas of the Alaska OCS—Beaufort, Chukchi, and Bering Seas. The Bering Sea includes the North Aleutian Basin Planning Area.

The Department conducted a more complete environmental sensitivity analysis, including analysis beyond the shoreline that compares the environmental sensitivity of all 26 OCS planning areas and identifies those areas whose environments are most and least sensitive to OCS activity.

After reviewing the new analysis and rebalancing the factors required by the OCS Lands Act, Secretary Salazar announced his Preliminary Revised Program for 2007-2012 on March 31, 2010. In accordance with the Department’s earlier submission to the Court as to how it intended to meet the Court’s remand, the PRP was submitted to the Court, the President, and the Congress. The Department announced a 30-day public comment period to May 3, 2010. During the comment period, the Department received over 118,000 comments for the Secretary’s consideration.

On December 1, 2010, the Secretary Salazar announced his new OCS Oil & Gas Strategy and on December 23, he submitted the Revised Program for 2007-2012 to the Court.