Amidst the global energy crisis, American consumers have experienced a slight reprieve in recent months, with the price of oil, natural gas, gas prices, and diesel fuel retreating from their record highs earlier this year. The Biden administration touts this trend as an achievement, but had been deflecting the blame for the sky-high prices this summer. Certainly, the decline of energy prices is welcome news, but it is imperative that the federal government not get complacent in thinking stangent, but still elevated, energy costs will remain for the long-term. To ensure long-term price stability, President Biden must reverse course on one major policy misstep of his presidency thus far: a lack of approved leases for offshore and onshore drilling on federal lands.
Newly analyzed data from the Wall Street Journal indicates the full extent of the issue. The Biden administration has leased fewer acres for oil-and-gas drilling offshore and on federal land than any other time dating back to the end of World War II, according to their analysis. Over President Biden’s 19 months in office, the Interior Department leased 126,228 acres for drilling. No other president since Richard Nixon has leased fewer than 4.4 million acres 19 months into their first term. This reality means the United States is not fully embracing domestic energy production, and causing us to rely on other nations for energy, a scenario which is not a long term solution towards reaching energy independence. U.S. leaders must recognize that building out domestic energy production and energy infrastructure is critical to fighting volatile energy prices.
Achieving energy independence means maximizing offshore drilling. The Gulf of Mexico federal offshore oil production, for example, accounts for 15 percent of total U.S. crude oil production and federal offshore natural gas production in the Gulf accounts for five percent of total U.S. dry production, according to the Energy Information Administration. The resources just off the coast present a major opportunity for the United States, and one that we should take advantage of without delay.
The Inflation Reduction Act is a mixed bag of potential solutions and definite roadblocks. The IRA would raise taxes on crude oil and imported petroleum, and impose a new fee on energy producers, pipelines, and job creators. These taxes will facilitate, not alleviate, the domestic energy crisis. At the same time, the IRA requires that three lease sales—sales 257, 258, 259, and 261—must be held by their specified date. Although it is encouraging to see this included, the sales should not have been halted in the first place. Essentially, the Administration is taking credit for reinstating sales they have purposefully delayed. The GAIN Coalition implores President Biden’s Interior Department to maximize our country’s resources and expand our energy infrastructure further.