Biden Relents On Offshore Drilling —But Offers Fewest Leases Everthedigitalchaps



As global efforts have been made to reduce offshore drilling and create a greener planet, the Biden administration will offer the fewest oil and gas lease sales in U.S. history — a limited but significant reversal from President Joe Biden’s campaign rhetoric, during which he called for a complete ban on drilling if elected.

Key Facts

The Department of the Interior (DOI) published a long-awaited plan Friday for offshore leases, outlining three offshore oil and gas lease sales over the next five years—the lowest number of sales ever proposed by the U.S. government.

The Biden administration’s plan will not include any sales in 2024 and only up to three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico in 2025, 2027 and 2029.

Despite his early campaign promise in 2020 to stop drilling on federal lands, the Biden administration hasn’t followed through due to already existing laws requiring the DOI to offer 60 million acres for offshore oil and gas before it issues a lease for offshore wind development.

The new plan does not include lease sales in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, or Alaska—even though Alaska was initially being considered.

The newly announced plan prevents new offshore leasing outside the Gulf of Mexico and is a plan that The American Petroleum Institute labels as “restrictive.”

Key Background

The Biden administration’s new proposal still does not fulfill his commitment to end oil and gas drilling on public lands and in federal waters, which he pledged in 2020—but the DOI said the sales outlined in the new plan are vital due to the Inflation Reduction Act, which was implemented last year in an effort to take on clean energy and climate change in the U.S. Under the law, the government is prohibited from leasing federal lands and waters unless they offer 2 million acres of public land and 60 million acres of federal waters for oil and gas leasing the year before. In initial talks, Alaska’s Cook Inlet or the Gulf of Mexico were two central points that were being considered for sales—but Alaska was axed from Friday’s proposal.


The Biden administration’s plan for offshore oil and gas lease sales is a significant reduction from proposals offered by the Trump administration. Back in 2018, former President Trump proposed a plan to open California, Florida, and parts of the Atlantic Ocean to new oil drilling, with 47 lease sales on the table from 2024 to 2029. The proposal did not become a final plan. Republicans and Democrats have been at odds on offshore oil drilling for years, with Republicans largely in favor of offshore drilling for oil and gas and Democrats arguing it should be prevented in most of the nation’s waters. In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Obama administration offered a temporary moratorium on all deepwater offshore drilling, and in later years implemented bans on offshore drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans—which the Trump administration later tried reversing. A judge in Alaska later threw out the order and said Trump exceeded his authority in doing so.

Crucial Quote

“President Biden is unfortunately showing the world that it’s okay to continue to prioritize polluters over real climate solutions,” Beth Lowell, the U.S. vice president of Oceana, said in a statement.

Surprising Fact

The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of oil and has the 9th largest oil reserve in the world, according to World Population Review.

Further Reading

The Biden Administration’s Next Big Climate Decision (The New Yorker)

Biden OK’s Limited Offshore Drilling, Relenting on Campaign Promise (WSJ)

Why Biden’s oil policies upset both oil companies and environmentalists (The Washington Post)


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