On the day that Joe Biden was sworn into office, among the record-setting flurry of executive orders he signed was a “pause” on all new drilling leases for oil and gas on federal lands. That pause was intended to provide time to “investigate” the situation but it quickly began to look as if it might be indefinite. That situation led a dozen of the nation’s major oil and gas producing states to take the federal government to court and have them restart the leases. The White House lost that court battle in June and they now appear to be nearly out of appeals. A quiet announcement from the Biden administration on Tuesday indicated that they would restart the oil and gas leasing program as soon as next week and will reopen bidding for drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico by early October. So whatever happened to all of that “studying” they were supposedly doing? (Reuters)
The Biden administration said on Tuesday it would take steps to restart the federal oil and gas leasing program in the next week and plans to hold a Gulf of Mexico auction as soon as October, court papers showed.
The move comes two months after the U.S Interior Department first said it would comply with a June 15 federal judge’s order blocking its months-long pause in oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
That order was a blow to a key White House effort to address climate change by reining in fossil fuel extraction.
As to the “study” that Biden requested, it was supposed to evaluate potential “environmental impacts and value to the taxpayer.” A separate statement from the Interior Department said that study was still ongoing. (There was no estimate provided as to when it might be completed.)
The primary reason that Biden is backing down appears to be a threat from the Louisiana court that heard the case to hold the federal government in contempt if they failed to comply with the previous order. The plaintiffs pointed out that all of the proposed leasing sites had already undergone extensive study covering precisely the information that the current Interior Department claims to be seeking and the sales were already approved.
Many of the promises that Joe Biden made to his progressive base during the campaign were the focus of his avalanche of executive orders signed shortly after taking office. Those actions won him widespread praise from liberals and most of the mainstream press. But one by one, a lot of those plans have begun to wilt after being exposed to the realities of the world. Major pieces of legislation aimed at “police reform” and changes to voting laws appear to be bogged down in the legislative graveyard of the Senate. Even some of the Democrats’ big-spending plans appear to be in danger of evaporating
But at least in terms of energy production, there is now some new hope on the horizon. We are once again facing energy production shortfalls after several years where the United States took its place as a dominant global leader in oil and gas production. Perhaps these new leases will put us back on track to rebuild what was recently lost.