SCHERER: We Need Offshore Drilling To Secure Energy Independence. The Biden Admin Is Doing The Bare Minimum

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Nate Scherer Contributor
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At a time of heightened international instability, driven by unprovoked wars of aggression and the rise of new foreign adversaries, it has never been more important to prioritize American energy independence. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has repeatedly done everything it can to undermine this effort.

One of the latest examples came at the end of September when the administration released its highly anticipated offshore oil and gas five-year lease plan, as required under the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The project proposes holding just three oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico over five years, the fewest offshore lease sales ever proposed in a five-year period. The plan also blocks future lease sales off the Alaskan, Atlantic and Pacific coasts despite an abundance of untapped underground oil and gas deposits in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

While the plan aligns with President Joe Biden’s previous statements, in which he pledged to transition the economy to 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, it also undermines America’s future energy independence. The proposal reveals that the administration is not serious about increasing or sustaining domestic oil and gas production. Indeed, while the U.S. remains the world’s largest oil producer, it is also the world’s largest oil consumer, and it continues to depend on fossil fuels to drive the economy and meet Americans’ energy needs.

Fossil fuels power America’s power plants and factories and remain the primary energy source for most American vehicles. They are used for everything from cooking and cleaning to heating Americans’ homes. Over 6,000 consumer products rely on petrochemicals as a primary ingredient, making continued fossil fuel production an economic necessity.

It is inexplicable that the Biden administration would propose such a limited number of leases, knowing that less domestic production means more imports. Biden has already spent much of his presidency pleading with countries like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to ramp up oil production to wean the world off Russian oil. He has also drained America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve at a time when gas prices are climbing and the Federal Reserve is fighting to keep inflation down. This is unacceptable.

America has more than enough oil-rich lands and waters to satisfy America’s energy needs. But the government seems determined to block access to this valuable resource. Examples range from nixing essential energy projects and canceling leases to proposing new restrictions on oil and gas exploration on land expressly set aside for this purpose — namely, the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. Such actions create uncertainty in the energy market and discourage long-term investment.

While prior administrations also have a poor track record of opening up federal waters to oil and gas exploration, the Biden administration’s plan for just three lease sales represents a significant departure from previous administrations, whether Republican or Democrat. According to Reuters, previous offshore lease sales ranged from 11 to 41 over five-year periods, with every year having at least one.

In contrast, the 2023 plan proposes leasing the bare minimum number of federal acres for drilling that is required under the terms of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. The act specified that the government must open up at least 60 million acres of federal waters to oil and gas exploration in any one year before it can lease federal lands for renewable energy projects.

The government seems to celebrate this point openly. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland recently boasted that the five-year lease plan “represents the smallest number of oil and gas lease sales in history” and that the Biden administration is “committed to building a clean energy future that ensures America’s energy independence.”

Such statements are disturbing because they provide more evidence of the administration’s misplaced priorities as well as its rejection of a readily available energy source. It is impossible to “ensure America’s energy independence” without oil and gas, as the recent shale revolution should have clarified.

America needs oil and gas just like it needs nuclear, solar, and wind. If the Biden administration really cares about energy independence, it needs to step up its game on offshore lease sales.

Nate Scherer is a policy analyst with the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit us at www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on Twitter (X) @ConsumerPal.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.