More (Bad) Broken Records: Offshore Permits Hit 19-Year Low under Biden Admin
The Biden administration has approved a record low number of new offshore oil wells, according to a new data analysis by E&E News, adding to a long list of antagonistic moves against the oil and gas industry.
Analyzing data since the George W. Bush era, E&E News found that offshore permitting hit a 19-year low under the Biden White House, with the Interior Department approving 30 percent fewer oil and gas wells during the president’s first two years compared to the same period under the prior administration.
“The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement permitted 105 wells in Biden’s first two years. That’s compared to approving 148 during Trump’s first two years in office and 275 when Barack Obama took office in 2009 and 2010.”
Unfortunately, the analysis is not surprising. A similar 2022 Wall Street Journal analysis found that lease sales under the Biden administration have “slowed to a trickle,” with the administration leasing fewer acres for oil-and-gas drilling offshore and on federal land than any other time dating back to the end of World War II.
“President Biden’s Interior Department leased 126,228 acres for drilling through Aug. 20, his first 19 months in office, the analysis found. No other president since Richard Nixon in 1969-70 leased out fewer than 4.4 million acres at this stage in his first term.”
These actions have a “combined effect of chilling industry willingness to invest in the United States,” according to Holly Hopkins, vice president of upstream policy for the American Petroleum Institute. From E&E:
“[Biden’s policies] make it more difficult to substantiate the long-term, capital-intensive investments required for production in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a concerning trend for the future of American energy security.” (emphasis added)
During the 2020 campaign, President Biden vowed “no more drilling on federal lands, no more drilling including offshore,” and upon entering office, began acting on that promise, much to the detriment of consumer energy prices and American energy security.
Below are just some of these moves that have had devastating consequences on the stability of the oil and gas industry, the ability to make long-term investments, and the certainty of future domestic production:
- Immediately implemented an illegal ban on federal leasing;
- Stalled, obstructed and slugged to a five-year offshore leasing plan that ultimately included the fewest lease sales in history;
- Attempted to limit offshore operations across the Gulf of Mexico under the guise of protecting the Rice’s whale, a move that a federal judge overturned calling it an “inexplicable about-face on the scientific record;”
- Canceled the only active leases in Alaska’s Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a move that garnered bipartisan backlash;
- Proposed a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule that would make environmental review processes even more cumbersome and enhances “BLM discretion to constrain onshore access;”
- Proposed burdensome rules on methane, tailpipe emission standards, and pipeline leak detection and repair;
- Instituted a new ban on oil drilling and mining across Chaco Canyon and more than 4,000 acres in New Mexico;
- Attempted to stop leasing in North Dakota, which a federal judge overturned;
- Released a laundry list of new regulations for oil and gas leasing on public lands while hiking royalty rates by 50 percent and cutting the amount of acreage offered in onshore leasing;
- Proposed a new rule on natural gas water heaters while also targeting natural gas stoves;
- Blocked energy infrastructure that would bring gasoline prices down and considered a crude oil export ban;
- Incorrectly suggested oil companies control gas prices, floated a doomed windfall profits tax, and made repeated, debunked claims of price gouging;
- Drained the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve
Bottom Line: In an industry that necessitates certainty and stability, the Biden administration continues to offer anything but. The administration’s continued moves to gut the oil and gas industry will only lead to increased gas prices and reliance on foreign oil, rather than a strong domestic energy sector that lifts up American workers and the American economy.