Top Republican aims to force Biden admin to hold canceled oil and gas lease sales
The Biden administration canceled the three remaining offshore lease sales in May
The top House Republican on a panel overseeing the Interior Department (DOI) introduced an amendment Wednesday that would force the Biden administration to hold canceled lease sales.
Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, the top GOP member of the House Appropriations Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee, introduced the amendment during a markup of President Joe Biden's proposed FY23 budget.
The amendment would compel Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to hold three offshore oil and gas lease sales that the White House abruptly canceled in May.
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"Every day I hear from constituents who are getting hammered by record-high gas prices," Joyce told Fox News Digital in a statement. "But instead of unleashing American resources to help them, the President continues to prevent and disincentivize domestic energy production, canceling oil and gas leases he supported during the Obama Administration."
"These failed, hypocritical energy policies are making us more dependent on foreign powers - including our adversaries and those with questionable environmental and human rights track records - and driving up prices that are crushing families already strained by rising inflation," he continued.
The measure Joyce introduced would force the DOI to hold the canceled sales within 30 days after enactment. The three sales were slated for Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico and were the federal government's only remaining planned offshore lease sales.
"In his State of the Union address, President Biden said ‘instead of relying on foreign supply chains, let’s make it in America.’ I’d sure like to know why the President doesn’t believe that should extend to American oil and gas," Joyce told Fox News.
DOI's current offshore leasing program, which the federal government is required to issue every five years under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, expires Thursday. Haaland vowed in May to issue a proposed replacement plan that would potentially list future lease sales.
"As we take this next step, we will follow the science and the law, as we always do," she said during a Senate hearing. "This requires a robust and transparent review process that includes input from states, the public and Tribes to inform our decision-making. We take this responsibility seriously without any pre-judgment of the outcome."
However, White House officials have debated issuing a five-year plan without any new lease sales scheduled, The New York Times reported last week.
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Shortly after taking office in January 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order pausing all new leasing on federal lands and waters. A federal court blocked the moratorium five months later.
The U.S. drilled more than 1.7 million barrels of oil per day on offshore federal leases in 2021, below levels recorded i 2018 and 2019 prior to the pandemic, according to the Energy Information Administration.