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The Biden Administration could restrict all future federal offshore oil and gas drilling auctions to the Gulf of Mexico area, according to two anonymous Reuters sources, after the U.S. Department of the Interior recommended the exclusion of all other areas.
The Biden Administration has until today, June 30, to submit its five-year offshore development plan—although the areas that might be included look like they could be slimmed down to the Gulf of Mexico.
Previously federal oil and gas leases for drilling have also included Alaska.
Other more sensitive areas have been proposed under previous administrations, but were blocked by environmental challenges.
The Department of the Interior is set to release its draft plan for offshore development later today, but it is unlikely to be finalized for months after the period allowing public comments. Without this plan in place, however, the DoI will be unable to hold any offshore auctions.
The last offshore auction, held in November, was vacated by court order, citing that the Department of the Interior had failed to account for the sale’s climate change impact.
According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, cited by Reuters, the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 15% of all U.S. oil production.
In April, after campaigning against holding oil and gas drilling on federal lands, President Biden removed the administration’s moratorium on oil and gas drilling on federal lands, putting 144,000 acres up for leasing.
“How we manage our public lands and waters says everything about what we value as a nation. For too long, the federal oil and gas leasing programs have prioritized the wants of extractive industries above local communities, the natural environment, the impact on our air and water, the needs of Tribal Nations, and, moreover, other uses of our shared public lands,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said at the time.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.