Access to potential oil and gas resources under the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) continues to be controversial. Moratorium on leasing and development in certain areas were established by Congress (beginning in 1981) and by the President (beginning in 1990). These moratorium were largely eliminated in 2008 and 2009, although a few areas remain legislatively off limits to leasing. The 111th Congress may be unlikely to reinstate broad leasing moratorium, but some members have expressed interest in protecting areas (e.g., the Georges Bank or Northern California) or establishing protective coastal buffers. Pressure to expand oil and gas supplies and protect coastal environments and communities will likely lead Congress and the Administration to consider carefully which areas to keep open to leasing and which to protect from development.
Marc Humphries, Robert Pirog, Gene Whitney
Includes appendix containing definition of terms