Biden administration issues final five-year offshore drilling plan

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The Interior Department on Friday announced its final drilling plan for offshore oil and gas leasing over the next five years, setting three further lease sales between 2024 and 2029.

The federal government is required to lease at least 60 million acres for oil and gas exploration as a condition of issuing offshore wind power leases under the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

In the final plan, the department set a lease sale in the Outer Continental Shelf for 2025, with another to follow in 2027 and a third in 2029.

Industry trade group the American Petroleum Institute criticized the plan as a “step in the wrong direction” in a statement.

“Simply put, this final 5-year program fails to meet the energy needs of the American people and could threaten to increase reliance on foreign energy sources,” Holly Hopkins, API’s vice president of upstream policy, said in a statement.

“Demand for affordable, reliable energy is only growing, yet the administration is choosing to limit future production in a region that plays a critical role in powering our nation and supplies among the lowest carbon-intensive barrels in the world,” Hopkins added.

However, environmental groups also took issue with the plan, with the ocean conservation groups hitting the administration for allowing drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

“This Five-Year Plan started with President Trump proposing to open nearly all U.S. waters to offshore oil drilling and ends with President Biden’s final plan that is the smallest to date,” Beth Lowell, Oceana’s vice president for the United States, wrote in a statement.

“The footprint of offshore drilling was not expanded, but the dangerous cycle of drilling and spilling must end,” Lowell said.

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