The Department of Interior released a schedule of oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.  This is the first lease sale in 21 months.  It is an encouraging move by Interior as drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accounted for some 242,000 jobs in 2010 with 60,000 of those positions linked directly to the oil and gas industry and some 180,000 related to those industries that provided equipment and services. 

In total, offshore drilling can create 500,000 jobs and more than $190 billion in government revenues by 2025.  These are much needed jobs when the nation is facing a jobless rate of 9.1 percent. 

However, this schedule of lease sales comes with some strings attached.  The one that is most troubling is the increase in the minimum bid requirement which is nearly doubled.  This has the potential to discourage investment by companies that have been paying for leases that they didn’t used during a moratorium and the permitorium that followed.  While the Administration is putting a good foot forward by holding a lease sale, it is still placing a lot of demands and conditions on an industry that has the potential to create a lot of jobs.

Mahta Mahdavi is director of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.