With his signature on the so-called Inflation Reduction Act this week, President Joe Biden did something that is getting very little attention. In the process of signing the controversial spening bill, he reinstated the largest oil and gas lease sale in the history of the country.
Steps taken towards renewable energy are greatly publicized, including subsidizing the solar panel and electric vehicle industries to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
Less obvious, however, is legislation included that specifically requires the Department of the Interior to reinstate the oil and gas sale of 80.8 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s called Lease Sale 257.
This in effect reversed multiple previous acts by the administration that pandered to environmentalists but further exposed taxpayers to the whims of the world’s energy markets.
It was just in January that a federal judge vacated the lease sale of the 80 million acres in the Gulf. At that point the court said that federal regulators used flawed numbers to approve the move.
Federal officials held the lease sale last November, but the contracts were not allowed to take effect while legal challenges proceeded. In Biden’s rush to gain favor with environmental groups, even in a time of record energy prices, the president put the sales under review.
Can Biden declare a “climate emergency” with a straight face after opening 80 million acres of Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas leasing? It is the largest offshore lease sale in US history.
— Lord Koos (@playon51) July 29, 2022
This led to multiple court challenges and an almost complete shutdown of progress in tapping into offshore energy resources.
Environmental groups challenged the methodology used to approve the massive lease sale, saying that it violated the National Environmental Policy Act.
Predictably, the Biden administration decided not to appeal the ruling, but that did not stop the American Petroleum Institute from leading the charge from the fossil fuel industry to reinstate the sale.
The case is currently in front of a federal appeals panel.
It is imperative, and even the Biden administration knows this, that the nation move forward with tapping into its own resources. The environment must be protected, and oversight is required, but the wholesale shutting down of drilling and exploration is short-sighted and dangerous.