Recent Press Releases

Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune this week cosponsored S. 2253, legislation that would open up certain areas within Lease Sale 181 in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration. Today the Senate Energy Committee passed this legislation, which will now be sent to the Senate floor for consideration.

Lease Sale 181 is located in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico that spans 2.9 million acres and would provide the greatest near-term option for the additional supply of natural gas in the United States.

"With the summer driving season around the corner and gas prices on the rise, America must take viable steps to become more energy independent and bring down fuel costs for all consumers," Thune said. "The bill I've cosponsored would open up acres in the Gulf of Mexico known to be rich in untapped oil and natural gas reserves so we can start extracting and using more of our own energy sources. The untapped natural gas in this part of the Gulf would be enough to heat nearly 6 million homes for 15 years. Those are meaningful statistics in states with long and harsh winters like South Dakota.

"It is not wise for America to rely so heavily on foreign oil. Political unrest and instability in oil-producing regions can disrupt our supply at any moment and leave Americans paying burdensome prices not just for utilities but also at the gas pump.

"Legislation like this is yet another way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices for all Americans, and I'm hopeful my colleagues will join me in passing this bill when it comes to the Senate floor."

Provisions of S. 2253:

  • Opens an area that is close to existing infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico and provides the greatest near term option for the additional supply of natural gas in the United States.

  • The lease sale authorized in the bill would bring nearly 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to market in the near future. That is enough gas to heat and cool nearly 6 million homes for 15 years, according to the American Gas Association. This untapped resource amounts to more than 25 percent of the total amount of natural gas consumed in America last year. The United States has the highest natural gas prices in the world. Families in the over 60 million homes that use natural gas for heat are struggling to pay their utility bills.

  • The Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service estimates there are 930 million barrels of undiscovered oil in this region.

  • Does not alter in any way the existing executive or congressional moratoria on the Outer Continental Shelf.

  • Does not allow leasing within a 100 mile area from the coastline of the State of Florida, protecting the viewscapes from the Florida coast.