The American Chemistry Council (ACC) on Friday blasted the U.S. Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) proposed second draft for a new Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leasing plan for 2007-2012 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 25). The leasing plan would replace one set to expire on June 30, 2007.

“While the MMS proposal calls for a limited number of new lease sales, they fall far short of what is required to end America’s natural gas crisis,” the ACC said in a statement. “With natural gas in tight supply and high prices causing hardship across the country, the [Bush] Administration should not amplify the problem by voluntarily withholding high-resource areas of the central Gulf of Mexico from its leasing program. Rather, MMS should fulfill its mission — using the vast energy supplies in the OCS to meet the nation’s needs — by providing as much access as possible to these supplies.”

The ACC noted that both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed legislation to open “far more acreage in the OCS, and in a far more timely fashion” than the MMS draft (see Daily GPI, Aug. 2). “With both chambers having shown commendable leadership in developing and approving these measures, it is imperative the House and Senate complete their work, come to agreement, and send a bill to the President this year.”

The statement continued, “By unnecessarily withdrawing huge reserves of natural gas from its leasing program, MMS has, in effect, rationed America’s resources at a time when the need for them is especially severe. Reserves withdrawn under the plan include what’s known as the ‘stovepipe’ area of Lease Sale 181, which is not under moratoria. More natural gas is needed to resolve a marked supply-demand imbalance and reverse five years of soaring prices — a condition that has already contributed to the loss of millions of jobs; increased the burden on consumers, small businesses, manufacturing industries, local governments, schools and hospitals; and threatens the economy by increasing inflationary pressure, reducing business investment and weakening competitiveness.”

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