Latest News, Local News, International News, US Politics, Economy

The Interior Department’s Offshore Drilling Plan Has Been Slammed by Both Sides of a Us Senate Committee

A heated debate over the federal government’s plans to either allow more oil and gas production to reduce inflation or limit drilling to achieve climate goals spilt into a Senate spending panel hearing on Wednesday.

Members of the Senate Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee debated Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s recent five-year proposal for offshore oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and federal waters off Alaska’s coast, which could allow up to 11 new drilling leases.

Chairman Jeff Merkley of Oregon said the plan — and the administration’s broader energy agenda — are not aggressive enough to combat climate change. Arguments that more oil and gas are needed to lower energy prices were rejected by the Democrats.

Rather than increasing the supply of fossil fuels, he believes the country should concentrate on transitioning away from them.

“We might hear something today about high gas prices and the need for more drilling,” Merkley said. “It’s like a heroin addict saying that the solution to heroin addiction is more heroin.”

Merkley urged Haaland to select the “no leasing” option in the proposed offshore leasing plan.

The oil and gas industry has questioned the legality of that option, especially after a federal judge invalidated President Joe Biden’s January 2021 executive order to halt new lease sales last year, but Merkley said Wednesday that there was nothing in federal law that required lease sales.

Republican No. 1 Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski called the no-lease option “unacceptable,” and she advocated for annual lease sales in federal Cook Inlet waters. The plan could only allow for one sale every five years.

Haaland, a former Democratic House member from New Mexico, said she couldn’t predict which option the department would take.

The plan is two weeks into a three-month public comment period, and Haaland said she couldn’t “prejudge” where that process would lead.

Biden’s energy policy has been slammed.

Members of both parties criticized Biden’s record on energy development.


Merkley said Biden has been too slow in shifting the United States’ energy use away from fossil fuels that emit climate-changing carbon emissions.

The department’s analysis of oil and gas leasing programs last year did not take climate change into account, and the administration has continued to ignore climate considerations in evaluating projects that require federal approval, he added.

“President Biden has publicly advocated for a paradigm shift in how we manage our public lands and waters for energy development,” he said.

“However, in practice, we’ve seen an all-of-the-above approach, one that will not boldly address our climate challenge.”

Republicans on the panel, including Murkowski, took a different stance.

“I truly, truly believe that our national security interests require that we increase our domestic supply of these resources, including from our offshore areas,” she said.

“I’ve heard that oil is an addiction before.” “I recognize our reliance on it,” she said.

“There is no upside to heroin addiction,” she says. “Our reality as a country is that we have a resource that not only we need right now, but the world needs right now.”

Murkowski acknowledged that there would be a transition to other forms of energy, but said that for the time being, increasing the oil supply was required to keep prices low.

Murkowski pushed for approval of the Willow project, which would allow massive oil drilling on Alaska’s North Slope. Last week, the department’s Bureau of Land Management issued a draft environmental impact statement that moves the project forward.

On the offshore plan, Murkowski stated that even considering not holding new leases was illogical.

“I believe it is actually harmful to our economy and national security,” she said. “The national interest requires that the administration avoid a costly leasing gap and conduct offshore sales.”

Other Republicans questioned Haaland about the plan and were more combative about the administration’s record.

According to Tennessee Republican Bill Hagerty, U.S. oil and gas companies have slowed supply due to the administration’s messaging about transitioning away from oil and gas.

“American oil and gas companies are not investing right now because the environment has been terrible for them,” he said.

“You’ve created an environment where you’ve sent every message since this administration took office… that the Biden administration will ensure that oil and gas investments do not pay off in America.”

Hagerty asked Haaland to commit to increasing oil and gas production. Haaland declined to make that promise, stating that she was taking a “balanced” approach.

Democrats and environmentalists have generally rejected the notion that more drilling permits would result in lower gas prices.

According to Haaland, the industry currently has over 9,000 unused drilling permits. New leases are ineffective for years after they are approved.

Hagerty stated that the department should send “a message to the marketplace” to increase production.

Senators on the panel found more common ground when they called for national resources to combat wildfires.

Read more:-

Merkley stated that he was pleased that the bipartisan infrastructure bill included $20 billion for firefighting programs.

Murkowski said fires were wreaking havoc on her state, with 13 new blazes breaking out in the last 24 hours. She believes the federal government should do more to prevent fires.

Haaland stated that money from the infrastructure law had already been spent on wildfire fighters and treating land to make it more resistant to fires.

The president’s budget request for fiscal 2023 would supplement those efforts, she said, with up to $1.5 billion more for wildfire management.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.