The East and West Coasts are off limits for new oil and gas leases in the 2012-17 period. So is the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico that's currently under a congressional moratorium. That's the announcement this afternoon from the Interior Department. The five-year plan puts all new oil and gas offshore leases in the rest of the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska.
“Put simply, this program opens the vast majority of known offshore oil and gas resources for development over the next five years and includes a cautious but forward-looking leasing strategy for the Alaska Arctic,” Salazar said in a statement.
In the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, the department says there are environmental concerns that require it to put some areas off limits (background story here). The Chukchi and Cook Inlet leases are scheduled for 2016, and the Beaufort lease for 2017. The department says scheduling them late in the five-year plan gives more time to gather scientific information on the reserves and the potential environmental costs of tapping them.