There They Go Again: In restrictions the Biden administration wants to impose on a congressionally-mandated oil and natural gas lease sale next month, we see a familiar refrain: Support for American oil and natural gas development – but not really.
Background: In slashing the size of the lease sale and singling out industry vessels for operating restrictions – ignoring all other marine traffic – the administration is sending more mixed messages on oil and natural gas. This chills future investment in U.S. energy leadership and risks our energy security.
Reminder: The Gulf of Mexico plays a critical role in U.S. energy production and is responsible for producing some of the least carbon-intensive oil in the world. Recent analysis shows that restricting production in this region could actually lead to higher U.S. emissions, as the U.S. would become more reliant on foreign sources to meet our energy needs.
Congressional Intent: A year ago this month, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. One of the IRA’s provisions mandated several future offshore oil and natural gas lease sales, including Lease Sale 261, scheduled Sept. 27.
How Big? The sale, approved by Congress, was to be “region-wide” across the “Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico” and include “unleased acreage not subject to moratorium or otherwise unavailable.”
What Happened Next: In a clear bid to mollify oil and natural gas opponents, the administration cut 6 million acres to protect endangered wildlife, while conceding the government has not identified a “reason to believe” this wildlife was at risk in this area.
And Then: Federal bureaucrats worked to impose nighttime restrictions, speed limits and staff requirements only for industry vessels navigating the area. If implemented, the restrictive rules could act as a de facto blockade of Gulf Coast ports. Check out the map below …