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The Biden administration made another decision on Thursday that is sure to upset tens of millions of drivers suffering under record-high gas and diesel prices.
According to reports, the Department of the Interior moved to cancel new oil and gas drilling leases on tracts of land in Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico, despite spiked fuel prices that show no signs of receding.
FOX Business reports:
The DOI halted the potential to drill for oil in over 1 million acres in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, along with two lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. The move comes as Biden has taken a few actions to combat high gas prices, despite his administration’s generally hostile approach to the oil industry.
“Due to lack of industry interest in leasing in the area, the Department will not move forward with the proposed Cook Inlet OCS oil and gas lease sale 258,” an Interior spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement.
“The Department also will not move forward with lease sales 259 and 261 in the Gulf of Mexico region, as a result of delays due to factors including conflicting court rulings that impacted work on these proposed lease sales,” the spokesperson noted further.
The spokesperson also told FOX Business that “there are 10.9 million acres of offshore federal waters already under lease to industry,” and “of those, the industry is not producing on more than three-quarters (75.7% or 8.26 million acres).”
Since taking office, President Joe Biden has made clear his intent to lessen dependence on fossil fuels. He signed an executive order temporarily suspending new oil and gas leases on federal lands — an order that is being challenged in federal courts — while also canceling the Keystone XL pipeline approved by former President Donald Trump and furloughing thousands of specialized workers.
While a “source familiar with the Cook Inlet lease confirmed to FOX Business that the DOI received no comments indicating specific company interest in leasing during the scoping period,” former Trump administration officials and other critics of Biden’s energy policies say the real problem is him: He simply does not want to expand oil and gas drilling and has proven as much by his actions.
Steve Milloy, a former Trump-Pence EPA transition member and founder of JunkScience.com, linked the latest cancelations back to Biden in remarks to the business news outlet.
“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.”
FOX News went on to note:
When former President Trump opened Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, the lease sale attracted only three bidders, including the state of Alaska itself. Environmental activists have opposed ANWR drilling for decades, and Milloy suggested that pressure from climate activists scared oil companies away. That sale also took place in early 2021, amid the COVID-19 economic recession and when Biden – who had campaigned on restricting the oil industry – was about to become president.
“I blame Biden for all lack of production. He has scared away investment,” Milloy told FOX Business.
“I don’t trust him in court defending leasing” because he believes Biden will find “any excuse to not drill. They even tried to use the social cost of carbon decision to stop leasing.”
“Unfortunately, this is becoming a pattern – the administration talks about the need for more supply and acts to restrict it,” Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, noted in a Thursday statement to FOX Business. “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.”
Meanwhile, average gas prices in the country have reached new record-highs in recent days, according to AAA’s gas price calculator.
The site notes that the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline rose to $4.374 on Tuesday, which is a new record, and then $4.404 the following day, another record.