A bipartisan coalition of 69 House lawmakers led by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) sent a letter to the head of President Obama’s Ocean Policy Task Force criticizing an interim report on ocean policy as being lopsided — focusing too heavily on environmental stewardship while virtually ignoring the development of energy resources.

In a letter to Nancy Sutley, chair of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, the House lawmakers said the “policies and principles that are advocated in the [recent] interim report focus heavily on environmental stewardship, which is one of several important priorities. However, the interim report does not adequately support other national priorities, including the economic development of ocean resources.” In addition to chairing the task force, Sutley is the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The coalition, which includes 10 Democrats, said it was “particularly concerned about the task force’s impact on our nation’s ability to safely develop its own offshore energy, including oil, natural gas and renewable energy.” The task force’s proposals “[should] not inhibit energy activity offshore in domestic waters and undermine the Department of Interior’s five-year leasing program for offshore energy development,” it noted.

“We urge the Obama administration and the task force to take an approach to oceans policy that recognizes and promotes access to the abundant American energy resources located offshore. By ensuring that offshore areas surrounding the Gulf, Atlantic, Pacific and Alaskan coasts are open to responsible oil, natural gas and alternative energy development, the federal government will provide the nation with the opportunity to safely produce our own energy.

“Economic and recreational activity in our oceans is compatible with responsible ocean stewardship. The oil and natural gas industry has proven that environmental protection of the ocean can be accomplished in harmony with energy development…OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] leases produce about 1.4 million b/d, and the Minerals Management Service calculates that since the 1980s less than 0.001% of the oil produced in the OCS has been spilled,” the coalition said.

A recent report by the American Energy Alliance said expanded drilling in the OCS would generate 1.2 million jobs and $70 billion in additional wages annually, plus $8 trillion in economic output and $2.2 trillion in tax receipts, according to the House lawmakers.

Congressmen who signed the letter included Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX), Dan Boren (D-OK), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), Doc Hastings (R-WA), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Don Young (R-AK).

©Copyright 2009Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.