Biden approves largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history

President Biden reinstated the largest sale of oil and gas leases in U.S. history, essentially steamrolling the need for environmental review, by signing the Inflation Reduction Act into law on Tuesday.

While the Cut Inflation Act includes several green energy provisions that the fossil fuel industry opposes, the bill also directs the Department of the Interior (DOI) to take a series of measures to stimulate the production of fossil fuels on federal lands and waters. The legislation specifically requires the DOI to reinstate Lease Sale 257, a massive offshore oil and gas sale covering 80.8 million acres across the Gulf of Mexico, within 30 days of its enactment.

“There should be no questions about the issuance of leases from the Gulf of Mexico 257 Lease Sale,” National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito told FOX Business in a statement on Tuesday. “The legislation is clear and binding.”

“Congress has acted, the leases must be issued and the lawsuit must be dismissed,” he continued.


President Biden

By signing the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden reinstated the 257 lease sale, the largest oil and gas lease sale in US history. (Getty Images/iStock)

In November, the DOI staged the lease sale that generated more than $191 million in bids for 308 fossil fuel business plots despite criticism from several prominent Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups. However, a the federal court blocked the sale in January, ruling in favor of a coalition, led by Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, which argued that the Biden administration had failed to properly analyze the climate impacts of the sale.

The Biden administration chose not to appeal the court’s decision in March. The American Petroleum Institute (API), a group representing broad segments of the fossil fuel industry, stepped in and appealed on behalf of the companies involved in the sale. The case remains before a federal appeals board.


“While reinstating the 257 lease sale is a positive step forward for American energy leadership, the legislation as a whole falls far short of meeting America’s long-term energy needs,” said Frank Macchiarola, API’s senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs. FOX Business in a statement.

API and several other industry groups wrote a letter to House leaders last week urging them to reconsider the legislation. The groups particularly took issue with the corporate minimum tax, natural gas tax, and crude oil tax included in the bill.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, makes a closing statement during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 29, 2020. ( Photo by BONNIE CASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, and other Democratic lawmakers who have criticized fossil fuel leasing voted for the Cut Inflation Act. (Bonnie Cash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Additionally, several prominent Democrats who had previously criticized the new lease of fossil fuels on federal lands and waters voted in favor of the Cut Inflation Act despite their criticisms of the 257 lease sale.

“After this disastrous lease sale was rightly revoked, the Biden administration had a clear choice to make,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, said in March after that the administration chose not to appeal the court’s decision blocking the lease sale. 257. “Would they appeal the decision and continue to defend the previous administration’s climate denialism and massive giveaways to the fossil fuel industry? Or would they accept the decision, abide by federal law on the environment and would they take this rare opportunity to realign the Home Office’s offshore leases program with climate science?”

“Fortunately, the administration made the right decision.”


The Cut Inflation Act also requires the Biden administration to hold three offshore lease sales he canceled in May and ties new renewable energy leasing to mandatory onshore oil and gas leasing.

The DOI declined to comment.

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