The Biden administration released a proposed plan on Friday for where the federal government intends to hold offshore oil and gas lease sales in federal waters for the next five years. The plan would mainly limit drilling to the Gulf of Mexico, with one proposed lease sale in waters off Alaska.
The Interior Department's five-year offshore leasing plan is required by law. But it comes at a time when the Biden administration is caught between conflicting goals: its own commitments to slash planet-warming emissions from fossil fuels, and intense political pressure over high gas prices.
The plan was also released the day after the Supreme Court ruled federal Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate planet-warming emissions from power plants. The opinion was roundly criticized by environmental advocates, scientists and the Biden administration for handcuffing the EPA just as more action is needed on the climate crisis.
But the Biden administration isn't ruling out new offshore drilling in the next half decade. Instead, Interior is proposing a range of options; from no new drilling to 10 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico -- where the vast majority of offshore drilling already occurs -- as well as one proposed sale in Alaska's Cook Inlet. However, Interior recently canceled an approved Cook Inlet sale due to lack of interest from the oil and gas industry.