by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Biden administration on Friday unveiled the most restrictive offshore oil and gas five-year leasing program in history.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the plan, which allows for three offshore oil and gas lease sales through 2029, with sales in 2025, 2027 and 2029. That schedule represents the lowest number of sales that the administration could have pursued while maintaining its ability to push offshore wind development under provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and it is the “smallest number of oil and gas lease sales in history,” according to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to building a clean energy future that ensures America’s energy independence,” Haaland said of the schedule’s release.
The decision is in line with the Biden administration’s sweeping climate agenda, which aims to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. energy sector by 2035 and for the entire U.S. economy by 2050.
“The release of the U.S. offshore leasing program, mandated by law and long overdue, is an utter failure for the country,” National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito said of the schedule. “The White House simply ignores our energy realities in once again limiting U.S. energy production opportunities. With global demand at record levels and continuing to rise, regressive policies like this serve to harm Americans of all walks of life.”
The plan is deliberately designed to “phase down” offshore oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the DOI. Offshore oil production in federally controlled Gulf waters accounted for about 15% of total U.S. crude oil output in 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The plan is also likely to draw the ire of numerous environmentalist groups that wanted the administration not to issue any offshore oil and gas leases at all, according to Bloomberg News.