Even with Congress in recess a large part of the month of April, Washington remains an active place -- and to help keep everyone better informed, Carl J. Smith and the Government Affairs Committee are working to reactivate the system of “Action Alerts” for notifying members of pertinent issues.
The first Alert 2006-1 addressed the draft of the Minerals Management Service 2007-2012 Five Year OCS Leasing Plan, which includes acreage in the Gulf of Mexico’s “181” area, OCS Virginia and OCS Alaska.
A major effort by an ad hoc group of interested parties -- including retirees, consumer organizations, industry organizations and professional organizations -- mobilized input for support for the Five Year Plan. The public open comment period on the draft plan closed on April 11, during the busy days of the AAPG Annual Convention in Houston.
The ad hoc group acquired booth space at the convention and many of you stopped at the booth to add your comments to the final tally. The final overall count was:
- Favorable comments -- 26,643 (70 percent).
- Opposable comments -- 11,681 (30 percent).
Defenders of Wildlife provided MMS with 9,827 comments at the 11th hour that significantly increased the “opposed” total.
The ad hoc group will continue its efforts to update interested parties in preparation for the Minerals Management Service issuance of the 2007-2012 Final Plan this summer. At that point, there will be a final comment period that will require another push for public/interested party response.
Although the start time and duration of the comment period has not been announced by the Minerals Management Service, look for the AAPG Government Affairs Committee to issue an “action alert” for Association members at the beginning of that comment period.
Member participation in the draft plan comment period was excellent. The response for the final plan will have to be even better considering the clear message that was sent by the enhanced level of comments received by MMS as the result of the effort mounted to support opening of increased acreage in the 2007-2012 plan.
Even greater membership participation will be needed in the next few months.
In the interim, look for a push by the various upstream organizations, consumer groups and other parts of the concerned energy community to press the administration to include even greater OCS acreage in the plan. By the time this column is published, that effort should be under way.
The various committee discussions during the Houston meeting suggested there was a need for a mechanism that permitted greater real time communications between the GEO-DC office and AAPG members.
In response to this need for current information for members, AAPG will be developing a GEO-DC area of the Web site to provide greater coverage of current event activities in Washington that could impact Association members. Presently we plan to have that area active by the end of June.
The design will provide for response and feedback to this office on breaking energy news and events from Washington.
I want to thank the many individual members who took time to visit with me during the Houston convention. I appreciate and welcome the candor of your suggestions and insights.
I hope, too, that as a result of these conversations, the GEO-DC office will be able to track and respond to member interests more effectively and with greater insight into Association needs.
Good reading -- Drilling Ahead: The Quest for Oil in the Deep South 1945-2005, by Alan Cockrell, 2005, published for the Mississippi Geological Society by the University Press of Mississippi/Jackson.
A very readable history of the events and colorful players in 60 years of oil and natural gas exploration and development in the Deep South.