November 26, 2021 –
Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), in conjunction with the White House, released the Biden administration’s report on oil and gas leasing in the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:
“In what has become a clear pattern with the Biden administration, DOI is quietly releasing this report the Friday of a holiday weekend, months after they promised it, in the hopes that no one notices their continued attacks on domestic energy. Ironically, this is also coming mere days after President Biden announced he was releasing 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a last-ditch effort to stabilize the energy crisis of his own making.
“The report basically pushed two major self-serving themes for the administration. The first is to downplay the volume of oil and gas produced on federal onshore and offshore leases. The second is to build a case saying the American taxpayer is being cheated and social and environmental justices are being violated so producers should pay more to produce on federal lands. Instead, the administration should ask themselves the obvious questions of why such a small amount of energy is produced from federal lands if it’s a giveaway to companies producing on federal lands and those companies can run roughshod over human rights and environmental laws, as they claim in their report. The truth is the administration’s arguments are false, and are simply justifications to make it even harder and more expensive to produce energy on federal lands.
“After keeping the entire energy industry in limbo for months, DOI’s report shows they have only just begun their war on safe, reliable, domestic energy. They won’t say that outright – they’ll veil their attacks behind the guise of ‘increased reviews,’ ‘necessary reforms,’ ‘adjusting royalty rates,’ and more, but we know the real story. They will bog small energy companies down in years of regulatory gridlock, place millions of acres of resources-rich land under lock and key, ignore local input, and sell out to overseas suppliers. Ultimately, the American consumer will pay the price. Look no further than the skyrocketing prices you are already paying at the gas pump. We have every tool available to make America lead the world in energy reliability and environmental standards. Unfortunately, President Biden and his administration seem more committed to making us weaker on the global stage than to easing energy concerns for hardworking American taxpayers.”
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden placed an indefinite moratorium on onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing with Executive Order 14003. DOI then announced it was conducting a review of the federal oil and gas leasing program and would release a report in “early summer,” with the leasing pause continuing while the program was under review. DOI Secretary Deb Haaland testified in June 2021 before the Natural Resources Committee that the report would come out sometime during the summer.
DOI conducted several listening sessions with stakeholders during the review process, but failed to reach out to certain groups that are directly impacted by the leasing program, including small businesses and schools. The courts placed an injunction on the unlawful moratorium in June and ordered DOI to start leasing again. While DOI has technically complied with the injunction, it has appealed the decision and the White House has continued to communicate its opposition to federal leasing. This reluctance to allow domestic production led to Biden’s drastic step of releasing 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve on Nov. 23, 2021.
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