Today the Department of Interior announced a proposed five-year plan for oil-and-gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The new plan makes available several lease sales in the central and western Gulf of Mexico and includes two new sales in the eastern Gulf. In addition the plan opens up two sales in the Artic off of the coast of Alaska.

This plan is a good step towards opening more leases to drilling and exploration but does not go far enough. Manufacturers use one-third of our nation’s energy supply which makes access vital to their ability to compete. It’s also 20 percent more expensive to manufacture in the U.S. compared to our major trade partners, factoring in energy costs. The recovery is struggling to gain traction and jobs are  badly needed, now is not the time to limit our options and tie our hands when it comes to access to affordable energy.

Opening additional leases on the OCS will create jobs throughout the economy that will boost economic growth and investment. Manufacturers strongly encourage the Administration to reconsider the exclusion of areas on the Atlantic Coast we well as the eastern Gulf. 

Just yesterday we received news that the Keystone XL pipeline decision might be delayed. Manufacturers are looking to Washington for policies that will help them grow and compete and this plan falls short. Enabling additional OCS drilling and exploration is essential to our energy security, competitiveness and jobs. 

Chip Yost is vice president for energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.