The US Department of Interior released today an Environmental Impact Statement regarding US East Coast offshore seismic surveys, which constitute early-stage oil & gas exploration. The east coast has been off limits to oil companies for 30 years, but a favorable EIS could presage permitting activity.
A Record of Decision would be the next step before companies could receive permits, “perhaps in the coming months,” Erik Milito, API director of upstream and industry operations, said on a media call earlier today.
“The ROD will state the decision of the agency; identify the alternatives considered, including the environmentally preferable alternative; identify and discuss the factors involved in the decision; and will state whether all practical means to avoid or minimize environmental harm have been adopted,” according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the DOI offshore regulator.
The area in question extends from Delaware to Central Florida. Oil is currently produced offshore Eastern Canada by companies including ExxonMobil.
Opening the offshore US East Coast to oil exploration would likely spark considerable opposition politically and on behalf of the environmental community, but there also appears to be political support for the activity.
“There is a lot of bipartisan support for gathering this data,” said Milito.