Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Department of Interior, regarding the Department's oil and gas leasing plan for 2017 through 2022 on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

"You now have a final opportunity during the Obama Administration to put forward a plan that will not only generate substantial government revenues, create jobs, and improve the economy of our nation, but also could yield long-term geopolitical benefits through ensuring a decreased reliance on foreign resources," wrote the Senators. "Given the tremendously positive impacts that opening these waters to new drilling would have, we respectfully advise that now is not the time to play politics with such a decision."

In the letter, the Senators request that Interior's 5-year leasing plan includes the expansion of offshore access to include areas off the Atlantic Coast, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, areas off the coast of Southern California, and multiple areas off the Alaska shoreline that the Obama Administration had previously placed off-limits. A recent study concluded that developing oil and gas resources in the Pacific OCS and Eastern Gulf alone would generate more than 200,000 jobs and add $218 billion to the U.S. economy.

Since President Obama was elected, Vitter has been urging the Administration to stop putting large portions of the OCS off limits for leasing. The President's current 5-year leasing plan is only half of what the previous plan was and keeps 85 percent offshore areas closed. At the beginning of this Congress, Vitter introduced legislation that would force the administration to go back to the previous 5-year leading plan that was scheduled before Obama was elected. Vitter also introduced the Energy Production and Project Delivery Act that increases domestic production, expedites important reviews for major energy projects, and could create millions of jobs.

Click here to read today's letter.