Biden set to implement most restrictive offshore drilling plan in history

By Jen Krausz on
 December 16, 2023

President Joe Biden announced Friday that only three offshore drilling leases would be authorized over the next five years, the lowest number in U.S. history, and that green energy sources would be aggressively pursued instead. 

The three offshore drilling leases will all be offered in the Gulf of Mexico--one each in 2025, 2027, and 2029.

No leases will be offered on the Alaskan coast or the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, another radical departure from previous five-year plans.

If not for the Inflation Reduction Act, which ties green energy development to the leases, no leases would have been offered, some sources said.

Tied to IFA

Biden plans to develop 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, and further restricting drilling leases could put that goal in jeopardy.

Joe Manchin issued a statement after the decision Friday critical of Biden.

"It’s now clear without a shadow of a doubt that without the IRA, this Administration would have ended federal oil and gas development completely," Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin, (D-WV) said.

"But instead of embracing the all-of-the-above energy bill that was signed into law, this Administration has once again decided to put their radical political agenda over American energy security, and the American people will pay the price," Manchin continued. "Granting the bare minimum of oil and gas leases will result in a minimum of renewables leases as well because the IRA tied the two together. You can’t have one without the other."

Terrible plan

The five-year plan required by the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act was due in June 2022, so Biden has already been dragging his feet for 18 months on the process.

The previous two plans, both drafted during the Obama administration, allowed more than 10 offshore oil and gas leases each.

Trump wanted a total of 47 leases in a five-year period, between 2022 and 2027.

President of the National Ocean Industries Association Erik Milito blasted Biden's decision. The association represents both fossil fuel and renewable energy sources.

"President Biden’s approach to severely limit leasing significantly curtails access to a critical national asset," Milito said. "The White House simply ignores energy realities by once again limiting U.S. energy production opportunities."

Milito noted that the restrictions will force the U.S. to get its resources from foreign sources that have more lax emissions standards and worse environmental ones.

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