U.S. gasoline prices hit a new record high of $4.37 a gallon Tuesday, yet the very next day the Biden administration announced it is cancelling three major offshore oil and natural gas lease sales required under the current five-year offshore plan.
This effort to sharply restrict domestic production in the midst of an energy crisis has not been lost on the media, as CBS News reports:
“The Biden administration has canceled one of the most high-profile oil and gas lease opportunities pending before the Interior Department. The decision, which halts the potential to drill for oil in over 1 million acres in the Cook Inlet in Alaska, comes at a challenging political moment, when gas prices are hitting painful new highs.” (emphasis added)
The decision to cancel these lease sales is also a major contradiction to the White House’s official position that was published a mere 42 days ago that the president isn’t holding back production:
“The fact is that there is nothing standing in the way of domestic oil production.” (emphasis added)
At this point, perhaps it’s best to ignore fact sheets and start paying attention to key actions and listening to the unedited voices of top administration officials.
For example, less than a month ago, the Interior Department claimed it would restart federal lease sales, but only doing the bare minimum, in a move clearly designed to undermine confidence in domestic production. The sales to be held in June are reduced by 80 percent of what was nominated and include a more than 50 percent increase to the royalty rate.
It’s basic economics: increasing the cost of production and reducing the available supply will restrict development at a time when the global energy supply is being outpaced by demand and Americans are paying increasingly higher prices as a result.
Interior’s onshore announcement was followed up just a few days later with comments from White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy who said the quiet part out loud during an interview on MSNBC:
“Let me answer your question very directly: President Biden remains absolutely committed to not moving forward with additional drilling on public lands.” (emphasis added)
Finally, to Interior’s argument that there is a “lack of industry interest” around these cancelled lease sales, consider that just six months ago, Gulf of Mexico Sale 257 was the largest ever U.S. offshore lease sale, yet the Biden administration declined to appeal a court decision vacating it.
This issue continues to roll on. Tomorrow is the court hearing to be held in Wyoming for Western Energy Alliance’s lawsuit against the Biden administration over not holding quarterly lease sales.
It’s becoming more apparent by the day that the Biden administration will continue to throw up obstacles to domestic energy production until the courts forces it to act. As the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s Jeff Eshelman – who is also the Executive Vice President of Energy In Depth – said in response to the cancellation:
“The Biden Administration’s national energy strategy is not strategic, and it doesn’t benefit the nation. What it does do is drive energy costs up, puts our national security at risk and further pushes the nation into high inflation and a failing economy. Ignoring the benefits of American natural gas and oil production is misguided and potentially against the law. The administration is not even trying to apply a band-aid to our energy challenges. They are just letting consumers and the nation bleed.”
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