September 30, 2022
Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Chief
National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development and Coordination Branch Leasing Division
Office of Strategic Resources, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (WAM-LD)
45600 Woodland Road
Sterling, VA 20166-9216
Dear Ms. Hammerle:
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is pleased to offer comments on the “Notice of Availability of the 2023-2028 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Program and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” (Docket #BOEM-2022-0031, Document #2022-14524).
PFB represents over 30,000 members engaged in all manner of agricultural activities, including the production and processing of crops; the production and processing of animals; the production and processing of forestry products; landscaping and horticultural services; agriculture-related support services; and food manufacturing. According to the 2021 report, The Economic Impact of Agriculture in Pennsylvania: 2021 Update, agriculture continues to be a leading contributor to the Commonwealth’s economy, contributing $1 of every $16 in gross state product, with every dollar of direct output generating $0.63 in additional economic activity. In addition, agriculture supports one out of every ten jobs in Pennsylvania and seven jobs per $1 million of output. In 2019 alone, the total direct and indirect economic impact of agriculture within Pennsylvania was an estimated $132.5 billion.
Sustaining and increasing the economic impact of Pennsylvania agriculture—and with it, the health of the broader global marketplace—requires plentiful, reliable, accessible, and affordable sources of energy. Unfortunately, our members are currently experiencing dramatic increases in cost (and in some cases, scarcity) for virtually every input necessary to produce the food, fuel, and fiber that the world relies upon to survive and thrive. Those cost increases ripple throughout the economy and harm consumers at a time when they are being forced to tighten their budgets, just as our members have been forced to tighten theirs. To that end, we support stimulating domestic production of oil and gas, and in that spirit, we ask you to finalize the 5-year program for offshore leasing as quickly as possible and include the maximum number of offshore lease sales.
PFB is concerned about the possibility of there being no new offshore oil and gas lease sales over the next five years, especially as our country faces the economic challenges described in the preceding paragraph. Independent analysis shows that oil and gas are going to play a significant role in fulfilling America’s energy needs for the foreseeable future. The question is whether the oil and gas will come from here in the United States, where it is produced under some of the strictest environmental standards in the world, or if the United States will voluntarily cede its position as a global energy leader and instead become increasingly reliant on foreign sources to supply our energy needs.
Now is the time to ramp up, rather than scale back American energy production, and moving forward with these sales will help support good-paying jobs, help bring costs down for consumers everywhere, and bolster our energy security. Therefore, the Department should quickly finalize a 5-year program for offshore oil and gas leasing with the maximum number of offshore lease sales. PFB members—indeed, all Americans—cannot afford to wait.
In closing, PFB thanks the Department for the opportunity to offer comments on this vital issue.
Grant Gulibon, Environmental Specialist