The American Public Gas Association (APGA) last Wednesday called on President Bush to include all offshore areas currently under moratoria or "administrative discretionary withdrawal" in the upcoming five-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing program for 2007-2012.
"I understand that the Department of Interior may be directed to exclude a significant portion of the eastern Gulf of Mexico from inclusion" in the new five-year OCS plan, the APGA wrote in a letter to the president. "The supply challenges that our nation faces requires that we keep all options open, including production from areas currently off-limits. Given the advances in drilling technology, and under gas-only leases, APGA firmly believes that we can produce natural gas in those areas in an environmentally safe and sound manner," the group of municipal gas distributors said.
"In the Lower 48 states alone there is an estimated 213 Tcf of natural gas below federal lands or waters where moratoria or regulations make exploration virtually impossible. This represents a 10-year supply at the current demand rate...We are in a crisis, and it does not make sense to take significant domestic supplies off the table if we are to bring prices back to an affordable level."
Natural gas prices continue at historically high levels, according to the APGA. Since 2000, increases in gas prices have taken tens of billions of dollars out of local communities.
"Increasing supply is a fundamental part of the solution to bring natural gas prices back to an affordable level. Clearly, domestic production has not kept pace with demand increases. A significant reason for this is because federal policies favor the use of natural gas, while at the same time, restricting the exploration and production of natural gas. These two conflicting federal policies have contributed to our current crisis and they should not be allowed to coexist in a coherent energy plan," the APGA said.
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