On Friday, the Biden administration unveiled a controversial plan involving up to three new oil and gas drilling lease sales in federal waters within the next five years. This announcement is poised to stir discontent among Republicans, industry advocates, and climate activists, with anticipated legal battles on the horizon.
A Strategic Move
In a strategic move, the Biden administration revealed its plan for three forthcoming oil and gas drilling lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, set to occur in 2025, 2027, and 2029. Notably absent from the plan is the Cook Inlet in Alaska, where lease sales have been ruled out.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland emphasized that this initiative serves a dual purpose – supporting the burgeoning offshore wind industry while safeguarding against potential environmental harm and adverse effects on coastal communities.
Wind Power Is the Future
The driving force behind this decision lies in the Inflation Reduction Act, which mandated the Interior Department to propose a specific number of oil and gas leases in federal waters. This, in turn, grants the department the authority to suggest clean offshore wind energy projects. The minimum threshold to proceed with such offshore wind lease sales nationwide, as dictated by the law’s requirements, is three.
Notably, this interconnection of clean wind energy and fossil fuel drilling was a crucial demand made by Senator Joe Manchin, the influential West Virginia Democrat who played a substantial role in crafting the bill.
The Trump Administration
In stark contrast to the prior administration’s approach, President Biden’s plan deviates significantly. The Trump administration had initially proposed a staggering 47 lease sales, encompassing all coastal areas across the United States, including the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, over the five-year period from 2024 to 2029.
However, there’s a catch to this plan, as mandated by law within the Interior Department’s purview. It also paves the way for an expanded offering of federal waters for the development of clean wind energy projects.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland emphasized that this five-year drilling initiative marks a historic low in terms of oil and gas lease sales, diverging significantly from the administration’s prior proposal, which suggested the potential for up to 11 sales.
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.