Biden Administration Sets Record Low for Gulf Drilling Leases

The Biden administration on Friday offered three oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico between 2024 and 2029, the fewest in the nation’s history as it conforms with language contained in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The Interior Department said in a news release that by complying with the IRA, the three proposed lease sales are the minimum number that will enable it to continue to expand its offshore wind leasing program through 2030, a pet project of President Joe Biden to get the U.S. to net-zero emissions by 2050.

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to building a clean energy future that ensures America’s energy independence,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. “The Proposed Final Program, which represents the smallest number of oil and gas lease sales in history, sets a course for the Department to support the growing offshore wind industry and protect against the potential for environmental damage and adverse impacts to coastal communities.”

Including the oil and gas leases in the IRA was considered by many as a concession to gain the support of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a staunch supporter of the fossil fuel industry. But Manchin was not pleased by the Interior Department’s announcement.

“It’s now clear without a shadow of a doubt that without the IRA, this administration would have ended federal oil and gas development completely,” Manchin said in a news release. “But instead of embracing the all-of-the-above energy bill that was signed into law, this administration has once again decided to put their radical political agenda over American energy security, and the American people will pay the price.”

The areas considered for leasing and number of potential lease sales from 2024 to 2029 are significantly narrowed from the Trump administration’s original proposal of 47 lease sales off all coastal areas in the U.S. over a five-year period, the Interior Department said. The previous proposal presented risks to local coastal economies, the department said.

“At a time when inflation runs rampant across the country, the Biden administration is choosing failed energy policies that are adding to the pain Americans are feeling at the pump,” said Mike Sommers, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, in a news release.

The plan to offer oil and gas leases breaks a campaign promise Biden made during a March 2020 Democrat presidential primary debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., when he said, “No more drilling on federal lands, no more drilling including offshore — no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill — period.”

“I feel disgusted and incredibly let down by Biden’s offshore drilling plan,” Brady Bradshaw, senior oceans manager for the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, said in a news release. “It piles more harm on already-struggling ecosystems, endangered species, and the global climate. We need Biden to commit to a fossil fuel phaseout, but actions like this condemn us to oil spills, climate disasters and decades of toxic harm to communities and wildlife.”

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and poltics.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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