Just before the July Fourth holiday, the federal agency that manages offshore energy development proposed a five-year plan for as many as 11 and as few as zero new oil and gas sites in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska’s coast.
The proposal would clear the way for up to 10 new oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf and one in federal waters of Cook Inlet, a significant decrease from the 47 lease sales proposed under a 2018 Trump administration draft plan.
But it’s still not enough of a reduction to satisfy climate hawks who say that no amount of new oil and gas development is safe.
Here are answers to five major questions regarding the proposal, according to States Newsroom:
What does the plan actually do?
The proposal, put out by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, is an intermediate step between a draft and a final program. The proposal matches the Obama administration’s five-year plan, which ran from 2017 to 2022 and also approved 10 sites in the Gulf and one off of Alaska. The 11 sites in the proposal would be the maximum allowed in a final plan.
Will this make gas cheaper right away?
No. The leases would not be auctioned for months. Once they are, it will take about five years or more for operations to begin.
What does this mean for climate advocates?
It depends, and opinions vary widely.
Who’s happy about the plan?
Basically no one. The range of options—from zero to 11 new leases in the next five years—frustrates advocates across the political spectrum.
So why did the Biden administration do this?
Five-year plans for offshore leasing are required by law and the previous plan, approved under President Barack Obama in 2016, expired June 30. Without a plan, the agency cannot issue new leases. Republicans in Congress, and the oil and gas industry hammered the administration for not having a five-year plan ready by the time the Obama-era one expired.
Read the full story from States Newsroom, which answers these questions in greater detail.