The Biden administration on Friday finalized a plan to dramatically limit the number of offshore oil and gas lease sales over the next five years as it continues to aggressively push green energy development.
The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program schedules three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico through 2029, marking the smallest number of sales ever included in such a plan, which the agency is tasked with issuing periodically. According to the DOI, retaining the sales will enable future offshore wind leases under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provision linking the two.
“President Biden’s approach to severely limiting leasing significantly limits access to critical national assets,” Eric Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, which represents conventional and renewable marine energy producers, said in a statement Friday. “The White House is simply ignoring energy realities by once again limiting energy production opportunities in the United States.”
“As global demand reaches record levels and continues to rise, reactionary policies will harm Americans from all walks of life by putting upward pressure on prices at the gas station, destroying good-paying jobs that make up the fabric of Gulf Coast communities, and giving up geopolitical advantages.” He continued: “Energy production for countries such as Russia, Iran, and China.”
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Milito added that policies that limit offshore production in the United States only serve to impose greater dependence on energy imports, including from countries with higher emissions and worse environmental standards.
“This puts our energy security and economic prosperity at risk, and undermines our efforts to reduce emissions and combat climate change – goals that the current administration purportedly supports,” he added.
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Under the plan, the Interior Department’s Office of Ocean Energy Management would hold the three parcel sales in the Gulf of Mexico in 2025, 2027 and 2029. It also rules out any leasing off the coast of Alaska, and in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, in 2029. Another departure from previous plans.
At the same time, the administration noted that it could have pursued a more restrictive five-year program had it not been for the IRA. That legislation — a $739 billion climate and tax package from Democrats signed by President Biden in 2022 — links new offshore wind leases to new oil and gas leases, meaning the former could be threatened without consistent fossil fuel leasing.
Releasing a program with fewer than three sales — a possibility raised by DOI last year to the dismay of energy industry groups — may have jeopardized Biden’s plan to ensure the U.S. develops 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. The country currently has only two small project pilots, One is off the coast of Rhode Island and the other is off the coast of Virginia, but the Interior Department has authorized several large-scale facilities since 2021 that are scheduled to take effect in the coming years.
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“It is now clear beyond a doubt that without the IRA, this administration would have ended federal oil and gas development entirely,” Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in September after the Interior Department proposed. The plan was finalized on Friday.
Manchin added: “But instead of adopting all of the above energy bills that were signed into law, this administration has once again decided to put its extreme political agenda at the expense of American energy security, and the American people will pay the price.” He continued, who was the lead author of last year’s IRA. “Granting minimum oil and gas leases will lead to minimum renewables leases as well because the IRA tied the two together. You can’t have one without the other.”
Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, the federal government is required to issue plans every five years outlining future projections. Offshore oil and gas lease sales. The most recent plan, which was implemented in 2017, expired in June 2022.
the Constant delays in release However, the replacement plan represents a departure from precedent set by both Republican and Democratic administrations, which have historically finalized replacements immediately after previous plans expire.
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The last two plans, drafted under the Obama administration, included more than 10 marine projects Oil and gas lease sales for each. The Trump administration has sought a total of 47 lease sales across the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and offshore Alaska between 2022 and 2027.