The Biden administration announced this week that it would ban new drilling on federal lands in Alaska in a move that could have major implications on the future of the American energy market. The decision comes even as many Americans are paying for gas prices around $4 per gallon.
The administration announced that it was opening several drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico, including three through 2029. However, the number of leases was below that of critics of the president.
The plans announced by the Department of the Interior (DOI) would also ban new leases off of the Alaskan coast, as well as others in the Atlantic and Pacific. The administration’s approach does not include any new leases open for 2024.
Overall, the restrictions represent the lowest number of new lease sales from the federal government in history.
The move would cancel plans set into motion under the Trump administration to accelerate American traditional energy production. During the tenure of the previous president, energy prices fell considerably.
“President Biden is delivering on the most ambitious climate and conservation agenda in history,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
The move was criticized by a number of oil and natural gas organizations, as well as Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). He called the DOI’s announcement “outrageous.”
“This Administration always puts the climate mob over you and your family,” he wrote on social media.
🚨 Outrageous. As Americans face soaring gas prices, Biden released the smallest offshore oil program in U.S. history.
Just 3 lease sales planned for the next 5 years—none in 2024.
This Administration always puts the climate mob over you and your family. https://t.co/ZZsQc16xMz
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) September 29, 2023
American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Mike Sommers said that the “restrictive offshore leasing program is the latest tactic in a coordinated strategy to reduce energy production, ultimately weakening America’s energy dominance, limiting consumers’ access to affordable reliable energy and compromising our ability to lead on the global stage.”
“For decades, we’ve strived for energy security and this administration keeps trying to give it away,” he said.
The decision to open up 11 potential future sites was also criticized by environmental groups as allowing too much drilling. There was significant protest earlier this year when Biden approved oil operations as part of the proposed Willow Project.