The Biden administration has canceled major oil and gas lease opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, blocking the opportunity to drill for oil in over a million acres despite the soaring gas prices in the United States.
The Department of the Interior cited a “lack of industry interest in leasing the area” for its decision to not move forward with the Cook Inlet lease sale. It also halted two leases under consideration for the Gulf of Mexico due to “conflicting court rulings that impacted work on these proposed lease sales.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has previously canceled lease sales in Cook Inlet three times: in 2007, 2008 and 2011, citing “lack of industry interest” as well.
Among those who opposed the cancellations was former Vice President Mike Pence, who said gas prices are at the highest ever recorded. “This has got to stop. Unleash American Energy Joe!” he said on Twitter.
Federal law requires the Interior Department to adhere to a five-year leasing plan for auctioning offshore leases. The current five-year offshore drilling program is set to expire at the end of June – the department only has until then to complete its lease sales.
However, federal law also requires the Biden administration to prepare a replacement plan before it can hold new oil and gas lease sales, which it is yet to release. A total of 11 lease sales have so far been planned under the current five-year program, seven of which have been held successfully.
A federal judge in Washington blocked the sale of offshore oil and gas drilling leases across 80 million acres off the Gulf of Mexico in January, ruling that the environmental review that underpinned the sale was flawed. The Biden administration did not appeal the ruling even though the auction of the lease held in November by the Interior Department is the largest offshore oil and gas lease auction in U.S. history.
This move to cancel offshore oil leases comes as gas prices hit another record high of $4.404 on May 11 while crude oil continues to remain above $100 per barrel.
Pause on new oil and gas leasing led to elevated concerns
Oil prices have soared to record levels following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While prices have come down a bit since then, they still remain elevated due to concerns about Europe potentially banning Russian oil. (Related: Rising gas prices to hit $7 a gallon if crude oil cost spikes and tension between Russia and Ukraine escalates.)
Biden, just a week after taking office in January 2021, paused new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters. This led to critics saying there was no rational explanation for the pause on new leasing. However, the administration appealed the ruling, although it announced that it would resume plans to facilitate the leasing in the meantime.
Following this, Biden also blocked the Keystone XL Pipeline project as he pushed to decarbonize the U.S. economy in an attempt to fight the so-called climate change.
While the White House has been attributing the high gas prices to the invasion of Ukraine, critics say Biden’s energy policies created a supply problem in the domestic market, making the U.S. dependent on foreign oil.
Frank Macchiarola, a top official with the country’s largest oil and gas trade association, American Petroleum Institute, called the cancelation of the Cook Inlet Lease another example of the administration’s lack of commitment to oil and gas development in the United States.
“The president has spoken about the need for additional supplies in the market, but his administration has failed to take action to match that rhetoric,” he said, adding that Biden’s move would not play well politically.
“In the kind of price environment that we’re seeing, there are negative consequences to shutting off oil and gas development, both politically and practically.” (Related: Gas prices in San Francisco Bay Area reach $5 per gallon amid shutdown of oil refineries.)
Any decision that worked against the interests of oil and gas involves political trade-offs. Biden’s approval rating is the lowest in the economic sector, with 69 percent disapproving his handling of the inflation and 65 percent saying the president “could do more” to lower the gas prices.
Follow Collapse.news for more updates about the soaring gas prices and the government’s moves to mitigate the problem.
Watch the video below for more information about how Biden’s policies have been affecting gas prices.
This video is from the News Clips channel on Brighteon.com.
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