Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced yesterday that DOI will begin reviewing proposals to conduct seismic studies of the Atlantic OCS. According to statements by Salazar at yesterday's Platts Energy Podium, Interior will open a 45-day public comment period this Thursday, January 27, on the environmental impact of the proposed studies, which will then be used in reviewing specific seismic study proposals. Seismic studies are an important first step in considering oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast. In a related development, Salazar also pledged broader reforms of leasing programs, suggesting that royalty rates for onshore oil and gas leases may be increased. The Houston Chronicle has more details.