The Biden administration has announced that it will not go forward with planned lease sales that would have opened up areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska for oil and natural gas exploration.
The action comes as, on Thursday, AAA noted the third consecutive day in which gas prices set a record. The average price of a gallon of regular gas was $4.418 Thursday, according to AAA. The average price of diesel was $5.557 per gallon, also a record for the third straight day.
According to The Hill, the two Gulf of Mexico leases were shelved due to contradictory court rulings that have made it unclear if precedence would be given to an edict from President Joe Biden freezing all leases or a five-year plan from the Interior Department that would have allowed them.
For the Alaska lease, an Interior Department spokesman blamed a lack of industry interest in the 1 million-acre Cook Inlet area as the reason for that cancellation.
But that wasn’t letting the administration off the hook to its critics. Its record of hostility toward the fossil fuel industry has made companies leery of being willing to invest huge sums in oil and gas exploration, they said, while the president tries to shift blame for the price inflation that’s slamming American consumers.
Former Vice President Mike Pence was among those noting the contradiction between the Biden administration’s actions and words.
“Gas Prices are the Highest Ever Recorded and the Biden administration cancels an Alaska oil and gas lease sale? This has got to stop. Unleash American Energy Joe!” Pence tweeted.
Gas Prices are the Highest Ever Recorded and the Biden administration cancels an Alaska oil and gas lease sale? This has got to stop. Unleash American Energy Joe!🇺🇸 https://t.co/pa6ai5sOW9
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) May 12, 2022
Biden’s last 24 hours:
-North Korea launched 3 ballistic missiles toward Sea of Japan ahead of Biden visit
-US baby formula shortage
-Biden just cancelled oil leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico
-Stock markets tank and inflation is STILL at a 40 yr high
— “Ultra MAGA” Always🇺🇸 (@Trump2Usa) May 12, 2022
You’ve blamed high gas prices on greed. You’ve blamed oil companies for “sitting on 9K” leases. You’ve blamed the supply chain. You’ve blamed covid. You’ve blamed Putin. You’ve blamed drivers for not going electric.
It’s time to blame…RACISM!!!
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) May 11, 2022
Steve Milloy, who had been on the Trump administration’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency, said the Alaska cancellation amounted to a self-fulfilling prophecy, according to Fox Business.
“In Alaska, the problem was that the greens scared off virtually everyone,” Milloy said. “It’s expensive to explore and drill, and the greens made it pretty clear, they were going to make it even more difficult.”
Although opposition from environmental activists could be a factor in companies not pursuing the Alaska lease, Milloy said the blame is mostly Biden’s.
“I blame Biden for all lack of production. He has scared away investment,” Milloy said. “I don’t trust him in court defending leasing.”
Milloy said Biden will find “any excuse to not drill. They even tried to use the social cost of carbon decision to stop leasing.”
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Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, said the administration tries to appear that it wants more oil available, but contradicts that talk with its actions.
“Unfortunately, this is becoming a pattern – the administration talks about the need for more supply and acts to restrict it,” he said.
“As geopolitical volatility and global energy prices continue to rise, we again urge the administration to end the uncertainty and immediately act on a new five-year program for federal offshore leasing.”