The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) of 1953 (and any amendments) defined state and federal control of the submerged lands off of the coast of the United States. Part of that legislation established the creation of 5 year leasing plans controlling oil and gas leases on federal submerged land. Included in the plans are guidelines for the number, location, and size of permits that will be available in the 5 year period covered by the plan. The current plan ends in 2017.
Plans are developed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Periods for public comment are a part of the planning process and final decisions are subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and all other related legislation.
BOEM description of the current 5 year plan:
Timeline for the creation of a 5 year plan: