Interior: Federal E&P Lease Policy "Not Serving the American Public"

File image courtesy BSEE

Published Mar 10, 2021 10:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Biden administration's Interior Department does not yet have a Senate-confirmed secretary, but it has already issued a temporary ban on new oil and gas lease sales in federal waters until the completion of a full review of federal land E&P policy. 

President Joe Biden campaigned on a promise to ban “new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters,” and Interior is now starting a review process that could potentially fulfill his pledge. As part of a top-to-bottom look at leasing policy, the department is hosting a virtual forum on March 25 with representatives from the oil and gas industry, labor groups, environmental groups and subject matter experts. 

DOI contends that the previous administration offered too much federal lease area to bidders, and it suggests that it is time for a change. 

“The federal oil and gas program is not serving the American public well. It’s time to take a close look at how to best manage our nation’s natural resources with current and future generations in mind,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis. “This forum will help inform the Department’s near-term actions to restore balance on America’s lands and waters and to put our public lands’ energy programs on a more sound and sustainable conservation, fiscal and climate footing.”   

The information gathered at the forum - which will be livestreamed - will go into an interim report from the Department of the Interior, which will be completed in early summer. The report will include findings on the state of federal conventional energy programs, along with next steps and recommendations.

Biden's nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), will set the tone for the agency if confirmed by the Senate. She has previously voiced criticism of some aspects of the oil and gas industry - notably hydraulic fracturing and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline - and her past statements have drawn the opposition of many Republican senators. However, she has the support of the Democratic majority, along with backing from Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), giving her enough votes to pass the confirmation process.