By Randall Luthi, President, National Ocean Industries Association Today, June 20, we celebrate the long awaited Central Gulf of Mexico lease sales. A good showing by industry demonstrates the resiliency of the American oil and natural gas workers. Upon close self-examination following the 2010 Gulf oil spill, industry identified new safety measures and worked with the federal regulators to show the American public that the US remains a leader in providing energy and jobs, and can do so safely. Hopefully today's sale is another positive step toward the new normal for industry. But as we hope, we also have to wonder why the US continues to pursue a one-legged approach to energy, jobs and the economy. The GOM provides almost a third of the nation's oil and 15% of the natural gas. However, almost 85% of our offshore land is not even available for development of oil and natural gas. If we are truly to embrace an all-of-the-above energy approach we have to increase all of the above -- including oil and natural gas. We have to open up new areas for exploration. We should do so now. The new five-year plan is actually a “no new access” plan that paints us in the same corner once again. This plan is expected to be released by the Department of the Interior in the very near future. Now is the time for Congress to show leadership and legislatively open up new areas for consideration. The House has previously passed legislation to do so.
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