Jul 1, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Interior proposes offshore drilling plan that would allow up to 11 lease sales

Photo of Deb Haaland in front of a mic
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 19, 2022 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Kevin Dietsch via Getty Images

The Department of the Interior proposed Friday a new five-year plan to narrow the area for offshore drilling lease sales to the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's Cook Inlet.

Why it matters: The plan, which rules out drilling on the East and West Coast, is a significant cutback on a Trump-era target that pushed for a broader range of offshore drilling opportunities.

Details: The Biden administration is proposing up to 10 oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the northern portion of Cook Inlet over the next five years. Both areas have "existing production and infrastructure," according to the Interior.

  • The final program "may include fewer potential lease sales, including no lease sales," the Interior noted in a release Friday.

What they're saying: Friday's announcement "removes from consideration the federal waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts while inviting public comment on 10 potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet off south-central Alaska," Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement.

  • "From Day One, President Biden and I have made clear our commitment to transition to a clean energy economy. Today, we put forward an opportunity for the American people to consider and provide input on the future of offshore oil and gas leasing."

Evergreen Action, a climate change advocacy group, called the draft plan encouraging but called for the administration to stop all new offshore sales.

  • "[A]ny new leasing would be incompatible with the science, with President Biden’s climate and environmental justice commitments, and with an economy that supports American consumers with cheaper clean energy," Evergreen Action chief of staff Lena Moffitt said in a statement.
  • "It’s time we say no to more giveaways to fossil fuel corporations and end any new offshore oil and gas leasing."

The American Petroleum Institute (API) released a statement criticizing the fact that the proposal "leaves open the possibility of no new offshore lease sales."

  • "Because of their failure to act, the U.S. is now in the unprecedented position of having a substantial gap between programs for the first time since this process began in the early 1980s, leaving U.S. producers at a significant disadvantage on the global stage and putting our economic and national security at risk," said API Senior Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs Frank Macchiarola.

What's next: Following a 90-day period for public comment, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will put together a proposal for the final program for the secretary to review and approve within a minimum of 60 days.

Go deeper: What's next for Biden's freeze on new oil drilling leases

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