Washington, DC – Today, Cause of Action Institute (CoA Institute) sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to find out whether there was political pressure surrounding DOI’s decision to withdraw the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) from its five-year Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

CoA Institute President and CEO, and former federal judge, Alfred J. Lechner, Jr.: “The changing positions of both the Department of the Interior and Senator Kaine raise questions about whether DOI withdrew the Atlantic OCS from the leasing program due to political pressure. Less than one month after Hillary Clinton selected him as her vice presidential running mate, Senator Kaine changed his position and now opposes offshore energy development in the Atlantic. Such an abrupt departure from his previous position, as well as DOI’s decision to disregard strong support for including the Atlantic, raise questions as to why this region was withdrawn from the program.”


When DOI released its Draft Proposed Program in January 2015, it included one lease sale in the Atlantic Region. The inclusion of the Atlantic in the DPP enjoyed broad support. Members of the congressional delegations from affected East Coast states, including Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, supported the inclusion of the Atlantic Planning Areas.

On March 15, 2016, DOI announced its decision to withdraw the Atlantic Planning Areas from the program. Within months, Sen. Kaine also reversed course and said he opposed offshore energy development, citing objections from the Department of Defense (DoD). DOI, meanwhile, has insisted that the withdrawal of the Atlantic Planning Areas was not predominantly attributable to the DoD.

CoA Institute today requested access to all communications concerning the Atlantic OCS and the 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program between or among DOI and its bureaus, as well as communications about the program between the White House, DoD, and the office of Senator Kaine.

The full FOIA request can be found here.