Biden Cancels Oil Lease Sales As Gas Prices Soar

It announced Wednesday night that the Interior Department would not proceed with planned oil-and-gas lease sales in Alaska’s Cook Inlet and the Gulf of Mexico.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed that the Cook Inlet lease sale will not take place due to insufficient interest from the industry. The spokesperson said that the planned sale of two leases in the Gulf of Mexico, leases 259 and 261, will not go ahead due to conflicting court rulings.

Soon after taking office, President Biden signed an executive decree freezing all oil and gas leasing on federal lands. The ruling was overturned by Judge James Cain, Trump’s appointee. This prompted the Biden administration and other parties to appeal.

In January, the Washington, D.C., District Court invalidated lease 257, a Gulf of Mexico lease that had been sold by the federal government. Although the Interior spokesperson named a separate lease, the administration will not appeal the January ruling.

The Alaska lease would have covered over 1 million acres. In 2006, 2008, and 2010, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management canceled lease sales in this area due to a lack of interest from the industry.

Federal law requires that the Interior Department adhere to a five-year offshore leasing plan. This plan was to expire in June for the affected leases.

This announcement comes as the president’s approval ratings have plummeted on economic issues, and congressional Republicans have criticized the administration’s energy policies following an unprecedented rise in national gas prices earlier this week.

However, the bulk of the surge was due to factors beyond the control of the administration, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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