Cassidy calls out Biden Administrations for playing fast, loose with law on offshore energy leasing

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) today held the Biden administration’s feet to the fire for their failure to adequately demonstrate they will comply with the law and hold oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico during a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

While U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland half-heartedly confirmed that the administration is committed to holding three offshore lease sales over the next five years, Cassidy pointed out this seems highly unlikely.

“2024 is the first year without a lease sale since 1965. I am worried that Lease Sale 262 might slip to the end of 2025,” Cassidy said. “DOI must complete several reviews and planning steps prior to the lease being issued… we are now almost halfway through 2024 and I am told the necessary steps prior to that lease sale have not hardly begun.”

When asked how long it would take to complete the necessary reviews, DOI acting Deputy Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis admitted that it would take 18 months at a minimum.

“Again, I have been told it has hardly started. Eighteen months puts us almost into 2026 and you said at least suggesting it often goes [longer]. So, it looks like we might miss a lease sale in 2024 and a lease sale in 2025,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy highlighted the problematic implications of these purposeful offshore energy delays for the administration’s preferred energy sources—and political constituencies.

“I have also found that this administration has played fast and loose with the law. They decide what they want to do, and they do it and they say sue me,” Cassidy added.

Background

Last summer, Cassidy introduced the Offshore Energy Security Act of 2023 with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), which would require the DOI to hold two offshore oil and gas lease sales in 2024 and 2025. He similarly introduced the Supporting Made in America Energy Act with Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), which would require DOI to hold four onshore oil and gas lease sales in the top oil and gas producing states as well as requiring two offshore oil and gas lease sales in each available area in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.

Cassidy slammed the Biden administration’s proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2024 – 2029 which proposed to hold only three oil sales—the smallest offshore energy program in U.S. history.

The last lease sale, Lease Sale 261 received 352 total bids, one shy of the record high for the last Five Year Plan. The sale sent a strong signal that industry is optimistic about the future of energy production in the Gulf, despite years of slow-walking by the Biden administration. It should be motivation to hold more sales, not fewer.

In Louisiana, revenue from offshore energy production is used for conservation, restoration, and environmental projects to preserve and restore its eroding coastline. Louisiana received a total of $156,329,442.65 in revenue from the Department of the Interior from energy produced in the Gulf of Mexico during Fiscal Year 2023.

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