Senators call for extension of comment deadline for offshore drilling plan

Published on March 07, 2018 by Aaron Martin

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Twenty-three senators called on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for a 60-day extension of the comment period for Draft Proposed Program of the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024 on Monday.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, led the call in a letter to Zinke. The senators argued that a 60-day extension of the March 9 deadline would allow for more public hearings in coastal areas, as well as additional time for submitting comments on drilling on what amounts to more than 90 percent of outer continental shelf (OCS) total acreage.

“These public hearings are a critical opportunity for citizens to learn about and comment on the department of the Interior’s five-year plan, and due to the geographic extent of the proposed leasing program, it is imperative to provide adequate access for each region,” the letter stated.

Plans called for 23 “open house” style meetings, but the senators voiced concern that they were “adequate in duration, location, nor format needed to meet the public input requirements.”

“Several of the public meetings were postponed and rescheduled later in the public comment period, which does not leave adequate time for stakeholders to learn details about the DPP at the public meeting and submit meaningful comments before the comment period ends,” the letter stated.