The nation’s largest fossil fuel industry association has filed a legal challenge against the Biden administration over the offshore oil and gas leasing program, which includes the smallest number of sales of lease on US history.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) filed a legal petition on Monday, arguing that the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) plan to block future offshore fossil fuel lease sales puts at risk of American consumers and threatens US energy security. The DOI finalized the five-year plan in December, scheduling just three sales in the Gulf of Mexico through 2029, marking the smallest number of sales included in such a plan.
“The need for affordable, reliable energy is only growing, but this administration has used every tool available to prevent access to many of the federal water energy resources,” said API Senior Vice President and General Counsel. Ryan Meyers.
“In issuing a five-year program with the lowest lease sales in history, the administration has limited access to a region responsible for producing among the lowest barrels of energy of the world’s carbon, putting American consumers at greater risk of becoming dependent on foreign sources for our future energy needs,” Meyers continued.
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Under the administration plan, the DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold three sales of parcels in the Gulf of Mexico in 2025, 2027 and 2029. It also rules out any lease on the coast of Alaska and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in another departure from previous plans.
The DOI, on the other hand, signaled that they could have continued with a stricter five-year program if not for the Inflation Reduction Act. That legislation — the Democrats’ $739 billion climate and tax package signed by President Biden in 2022 — ties new offshore wind energy leases to new oil leases. and gas, meaning that the former may be threatened without sustainable fossil fuel leases.
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Issuing a program without three sales, a possibility the DOI floated last year to the dismay of energy industry groups, may have jeopardized Biden’s plan to ensure that the US can produce 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. The country currently has only two small pilot projects, one off the coast of Rhode Island and the other off the coast of Virginia, but the DOI has approved several large ones facility since 2021 that is scheduled to come online in the coming years.
Under the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the federal government is required to issue plans every five years outlining the future offshore oil and gas lease sales. The latest plan, implemented in 2017, ends in June 2022.
the continued delay in issuance a replacement plan, however, represents a departure from the precedent set by Republican and Democratic administrations, which have historically ended replacements immediately after previous plans.
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The most recent two plans, both drafted under the Obama administration, include more than 10 coastal oil and gas lease sales respectively. And the Trump administration intends to hold a total of 47 lease sales across the Atlantic region, the Pacific region and the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska between 2022 and 2027, but that proposal removed after Biden takes office in 2021.
“Today, we are taking action to challenge this short-sighted program so that future generations of Americans can continue to benefit from our energy advantage for decades to come,” said Meyers, from API, last monday
The DOI declined to comment when reached by Fox News Digital.