Biden administration promises offshore plan but isn’t committing to lease sales


U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says the department will release a five-year proposal for energy development in federal waters such as the Gulf of Mexico by June 30.

Haaland did not commit to holding new lease sales, which is what Louisiana’s oil-and-gas industry is pushing for. The current five-year plan expires June 30, so without a new final five-year plan there will be a lapse in scheduled offshore lease sales, the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association says.

“As one of the lowest carbon-intensive producing regions in the world, the Gulf of Mexico energy industry stands ready to work collaboratively towards achieving our climate goals and meeting global energy demands, but to do so we need policies in place that support domestic energy production in federal waters,” LMOGA President Tommy Faucheux says in a prepared statement. 

During testimony before the U.S Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Thursday, Haaland pledged to release a proposed program by the time the current program expires June 30, but warned that a proposal is not a decision to issue specific leases or to authorize any drilling or development.

“The previous administration stopped work on the new five-year plan in 2018, so there has been a lot to do to catch up,” Haaland says in her prepared remarks, adding that “conflicting litigation” has been a factor. “We take this responsibility seriously without any pre-judgment of the outcome.”

The administration has been locked in a court battle with Louisiana and nine other states over its effort to increase the dollar value the federal government places on the harm caused by greenhouse gas emissions.