Biden Regime Continues Destroying America’s Energy Sector by Its Latest Move to Block Oil & Gas Drilling
According to a report by Tom Ozimek of The Epoch Times, the Biden regime recently blocked millions of acres of federal waters from a planned oil and gas lease sale. It did so after reaching a settlement with environmental groups about habitat protections for a rare whale species.
In a notice published on August 23, 2023, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said that as part of Lease Sale 261, it will provide roughly 67 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling.
This figure is roughly 9%, or 6.4 million acres, less than BOEM’s initial proposal, after reaching a settlement with environmental organizations that stops ongoing litigation over environmental protections in the Gulf of Mexico in exchange for leaving Rice’s whale habitat out of any lease sales.
Environmental organizations were ecstatic about the exclusions, while representatives of the oil and gas sector described the carve-outs as “unfounded” and declared that the restrictions would stymie domestic energy production.
Some elected officials also opposed the exclusions, which included West Virginia Joe Manchin, who is also chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“This Administration continues to kowtow to radical environmentalists at the expense of American energy security and costs to American families,” Manchin declared in a statement that The Epoch Times got its hands on.
Rice’s whale is one of the planet’s most endangered marine mammal species, with a projected population of just 51 individuals. 100 scientists sent the Biden regime an open letter (pdf) in 2022 detailing these facts.
Making the case that the loss of even a single whale threatens the whole species’ entire survival, the scientists called on the Biden regime to stop oil and gas drilling in and close to the whale’s habitat.
In order to go forward with the gas lease sale as mandated by provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Biden regime agreed to reach a settlement with environmental organizations that sued the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over what they believe was a flawed biological opinion that failed to adequately protect the endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico.
Back in 2020, environmental law organization Earthjustice filed a lawsuit (pdf) against NMFS where it represented the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Turtle Island Restoration.
The lawsuit aimed to undermine a Trump-era biological opinion on oil and gas activities taking place in the Gulf of Mexico.
The groups argued that the legally binding opinion failed to require enough protections for endangered species.
As detailed by a settlement agreement (pdf) that was approved on August 24 in the US District Court in Maryland, the groups agreed to stop their litigation. In exchange, BOEM announced it would leave out Rice’s whale habitat from any lease sales that take place during a 13-month period that the case is paused as federal agencies reassess the 2020 biological opinion.
On top of the whale habitat zone exclusions, the settlement features a requirement for any oil and gas vessel to lower its speed to 10 knots when it travels across the habitat area.
Having cheap reliable energy is of the essence for America’s working class. However, when radical environmentalists begin dictating energy policy, that dynamics begins to get threatened. Environmentalists will use every pretext under the sun — protect the environment, save the animals, etc. — to justify their anti-oil and gas agenda.
If we want cheap energy, we must give the radical environmentalist lobby the cold shoulder.