U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that the Department would offer 75.9 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development. The region-wide lease sale scheduled for August 16, 2017 would include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and provide a reduced royalty rate for shallow water leases to encourage exploration and production under current market conditions. This will be the first offshore sale under the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. Under this program, ten region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. Two Gulf lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas. "Our Outer Continental Shelf lands offer vast energy development opportunities and we are committed to encouraging increased energy exploration and production in these offshore areas to maintain the Nation’s global dominance in energy production," Secretary Zinke said. "As a global energy leader, we will foster energy security and resilience for the benefit of the American people. A strong offshore energy plan that responsibly harnesses more of our resources will spur economic opportunities for industry, states, and local communities, creating jobs and revenue. That's why we also are developing a new national Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas program that will best meet our future energy needs."