WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Biden administration has suspended leasing and permitting on federal lands and waters.
On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of the Interior Scott de la Vega signed an order that suspended department bureaus and offices from issuing “any onshore or offshore fossil fuel authorization, including but not limited to a lease, amendment to a lease, affirmative extension of a lease, contract, or other agreement, or permit to drill.”
During the 60-day window that the Secretarial Order 3395 may be in effect, decision-making over these matters will be reserved for department leadership for the purposes of reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy they raise.
According to the Department of the Interior, the order does not impact existing ongoing operations under valid leases and does not preclude the issuance of leases, permits, and other authorizations by those specified.
National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito said: “We understand the Biden administration intends to broadly review federal regulatory programs, and we remain optimistic that this secretarial action will not be used in a way that impacts that 345,000 jobs across the country that are supported by oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The redelegated authority of key positions, such as offshore oil and gas permitting, means that there still should be a process to grant the approval of permits.”
American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Mike Sommers issued the following statement: “Restricting development on federal lands and waters is nothing more than an ‘import more oil’ policy. Energy demand will continue to rise—especially as the economy recovers—and we can choose to produce that energy here in the United States or rely on foreign countries hostile to American interests.
“With this move, the administration is leading us toward more reliance on foreign energy from countries with lower environmental standards and risks to hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in government revenue for education and conservation programs.
“We stand ready to engage with the Biden administration on ways to address America’s energy challenges, but impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery.”