Energy & Environment — Inside punts on the offshore drilling plan

The Biden administration has released its draft five-year offshore drilling plan…sort of. We will dive into the details.

More: The Supreme Court gives Democratic Senate Leader Charles Schumer a renewed climate emergency and former EPA chief Andrew Wheeler has a new post.

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Inland offers 0-11 offshore sales

The Biden administration is making a decision on whether to open more lease sales for offshore drilling.

  • In a statement on Friday, the administration said it was still working on a plan and that when released it could include up to 11 sales of specific leases for offshore oil and gas drilling or as low as zero.
  • A Home Office official said equal weight was given to scenarios with zero sales, a few sales or all 11 sales.

The department’s statement and proposal for the future of the program was released a day after a previous five-year offshore drilling plan expired. This plan was launched by the Obama administration.

Sales being considered include an area in the Cook Inlet near Alaska and up to 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico. Earlier this year, the department canceled a planned lease sale in Cook Inlet, citing lack of industry interest.

The political context: The move comes as the administration grapples with the politics of high gasoline prices, which recently hit $5 a gallon nationwide.

  • It also follows a major Supreme Court ruling limiting the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate climate contributions from power plants.
  • And it comes as Democrats are still trying to sell their social and climate agenda to the vote of Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), who is generally pro-fossil fuel.

Manchin, in a statement, said he was “satisfied” that the department released its proposal, but “disappointed” that the zero put option was being considered.

The Interior official defended not deciding on a specific number of lease sales at this stage, saying he intended to provide a range of options to the American people.

The actual possible schedule: The department released a timeline Friday accompanying its proposed plan, indicating that the first lease sale could take place in 2023.

Of the remaining ten potential sales, up to two could take place in 2024, two could take place in 2025, three – including the sale in Alaska – could take place in 2026, two could take place in 2027 and one could take place in 2028.

Learn more about the proposal here.

Decision puts pressure on Schumer to secure climate deal

The Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday to dramatically limit the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants puts further pressure on the Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) to strike a climate deal with the senator. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.).

  • The Conservative court’s 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. EPA deals a blow to President Biden’s climate agenda and urges Democrats and activists to rush to save Biden’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas pollution by 50% by 2030.
  • The setback gives renewed prominence to Schumer’s efforts to revive a budget reconciliation bill that would include climate provisions such as clean energy tax credits and incentives to reduce methane emissions.

“This devastating decision is just the latest push for Congress to legislate on climate action,” said Melinda Pierce, Legislative Director of the Sierra Club. “Today’s Supreme Court decision is a stark reminder that time is running out and Congress must act.”

So what does he have to say? Schumer said Thursday that the court’s decision ignites a fire under Congress to do something to limit carbon emissions.

“Make no mistake about it – the consequences of this decision will ripple through the entire federal government, from food and drug regulation to our nation’s health care system, putting American lives at risk, making all the more imperative that Democrats soon pass meaningful legislation to address the climate crisis,” he said in a statement responding to the opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Many Democratic lawmakers have grown pessimistic about getting Manchin to agree to any budget reconciliation deal that includes provisions to dramatically cut carbon emissions.

Signs of life: Schumer continues to negotiate with Manchin, and there are signs of progress.

  • The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Democratic leaders have finalized a proposal to lower prescription drug prices for seniors, which would be a central part of the budget reconciliation package.
  • This development puts Schumer and Manchin in a position to negotiate the other pillars of the reconciliation package: tax reform and climate provisions.

Schumer’s and Manchin’s teams continued to negotiate through the two-week July 4 holiday, leaving some Democrats optimistic that a deal could be reached in July or early August.

Read more about The Hill’s Alexander Bolton here.


Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (right) named the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday Andrew Wheeler to a newly created regulatory management office, months after state lawmakers rejected Wheeler for another role.

  • Wheeler will lead the new office, which Youngkin said in a statement will aim to reduce state regulatory requirements by 25%.
  • The Trump administration implemented a similar policy in 2017, imposing a requirement that any new regulations be accompanied by the repeal of two existing regulations.

“Last year, I promised Virginians that we would remove 25% of regulatory requirements in the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in a statement Friday.

“In the spirit of this goal, we have created the Office of Regulatory Management, led by Andrew Wheeler, which will create much-needed transparency and efficiency in Virginia’s regulatory process to ensure we have a government that works for citizens. of the Commonwealth. ”

Wheeler, who served as EPA administrator from 2019 to 2021, was initially Youngkin’s nominee for Virginia’s secretary of natural resources.

His nomination was immediately rebuffed in the Democratic-majority state Senate, due to his past with the Trump administration and as a coal industry lobbyist.

A spokesperson for Youngkin’s office told The Hill that Wheeler will not need General Assembly confirmation to lead the new office.

Learn more here


Over the past few days, the Home Office has been conducting oil and gas lease sales on public lands, selling the rights to drill on around 70% of the plots it is offering.

Some on the left have argued that the fact that some plots have not been bid on undermines some criticism of the Biden administration’s climate plans.

  • “The oil industry has once again lied between its teeth. For months – as the industry giants raked in record profits – we heard only desperation for new leases and cries to keep those sales going. And what did we get today? More than 40% of the acres offered remain on the table,” Jenny Rowland-Shea, associate director of public lands at the Center for American Progress, said in a statement.

Industry and Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for implementing a now lapsed pause on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. Leasing is just one step in facilitating federally owned land and water drilling.

Asked about it, the American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents the oil and gas industry, argued that the sales demonstrated robust industry interest despite stipulations but in place by the administration.

“Despite the Interior’s decision to increase royalty rates, reduce acreage by 80% and perpetuate regulatory uncertainty, recent sales results demonstrate the industry’s commitment to continued development on federal lands,” API Vice President of Upstream Policy Kevin O’Scannlain said in a statement. The hill.


  • How the gas industry aims to rebrand itself as ‘clean’ energy to please black and Latino voters (Floodlight)
  • California gas tax increases ahead of 4th of July holiday weekend (NBC Los Angeles)
  • Air pollution warnings should be directed at polluters – study (The Guardian)
  • As federal climate tools are removed, cities and states are stepping up (The New York Times)
  • The race to build wind farms that float on the high seas (WIRED)

🦊 And finally… Every month is pride month

That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy and Environment page for the latest news and coverage.

Note on programming: We’ll be away on Monday, but we’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday. Happy 4th of July!



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