Despite the record high price of gas in the U.S., the Biden administration has announced it is canceling the sale of a massive oil and gas lease location in Alaska that was pending before the Department of the Interior (DOI).
Biden’s DOI also canceled two leases under consideration in the Gulf of Mexico area.
On Wednesday, AAA reported the national average price of regular gas had reached a record high of $4.40.
At the end of March, the White House, while blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the rise in gas prices, bragged of Biden, “The first part of the President’s plan is to immediately increase supply by doing everything we can to encourage domestic production now.”
Yet on Wednesday, the DOI killed the potential to drill for oil in over 1 million acres in the Cook Inlet in Alaska, informing CBS News that the cancellation stemmed from a “lack of industry interest in leasing in the area” for the decision to “not move forward.” The DOI killed the two leases under consideration in the Gulf of Mexico area because of “conflicting court rulings that impacted work on these proposed lease sales.”
“The Biden administration is poised to let the nationwide offshore drilling program expire next month without a new plan in place,” The Washington Post noted, adding, “Barring unexpected action, the current five-year offshore drilling program will lapse at the end of June. Interior cannot hold any new oil and gas lease sales until it has completed a replacement plan.”
Because the federal government can take months to create a new offshore drilling plan, energy companies will likely have to wait until at least 2023 before they can gain access to new leases.
American Petroleum Institute senior vice president Frank Macchiarola called the Alaska cancellation “another example of the administration’s lack of commitment to oil and gas development in the U.S.,” adding, “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.”
“Unfortunately, this is becoming a pattern – the administration talks about the need for more supply and acts to restrict it. As geopolitical volatility and global energy prices continue to rise, we again urge the administration to end the uncertainty and immediately act on a new five-year program for federal offshore leasing,” he concluded.
In mid-March, speaking at a Senate hearing, West Virginia senator Joe Manchin (D) criticized the Biden administration, saying the oil and gas industry industry “needs signals from the administration that they will support oil and gas development and production.”
“Industry also needs signals from the administration that they will support oil and gas development and production,” Manchin stated. “That includes taking concrete steps, like working on a new five-year plan for the Gulf of Mexico since we know that the current plan expires at the end of June. The Administration’s failure to act to on the five-year plan combined with the failure to appeal the vacated lease-sale means that we’re almost certainly looking at no offshore lease sales until sometime next year, to say nothing about the failure to hold onshore sales.”
He slammed the Department of the Interior: “The fact of the matter is Gulf oil is the heaviest we produce and our refineries are well calibrated for it. It makes no sense at all to me that the decision was made by Interior to not appeal a ruling throwing out the largest Gulf lease sale, particularly when that decision was made several days after Russia invaded Ukraine. We cannot take a shot-sighted approach that pretends two years with lease-sales will have no impact on our domestic oil and gas production just because the brunt of production impact from the lack of leasing hasn’t hit yet, doesn’t mean we can ignore them.”