The administration's plan for 2012-2017 bars drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as the eastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico. In both his letter and on the Senate floor, Vitter said the administration would allow only allow 2.16 percent of all OCS acres to be leased.
He also noted that former President George W. Bush's 2010-2015 plan allowed for more lease sales in the eastern Gulf, off California's coast, and in Alaska. "How does excluding all these areas in your proposed 2012-2017 plan best meet our national energy needs?" he asked in his letter.
The new proposal also calls for two sales in Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast, but they are not scheduled until 2015 and 2016.
Vitter also asked whether the administration would be willing to reconsider opening more areas for leasing, and how a plan that provides about a dozen lease sales per year helps the U.S. meet its energy needs.
"As the National Ocean Industries Association points out, 'A Five Year Plan for the Outer Continental Shelf is the most important and defining action an administration takes in providing new oil and gas resources for building economic prosperity in this country,' " Vitter wrote. "What your Five Year Plan provides is not merely a barrier to growing new jobs and economic prosperity, but ignores the true nature of our energy and economic needs."