House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Congressional Western Caucus Chair Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.)led a letter signed by 61other members to Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Amanda Lefton inquiring about the status of the 2022-2027 BOEM National Offshore Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, urging DOI to schedule the remaining lease sales in the current leasing programs, expressing disappointment that DOI did not appeal the January 27, 2022 court decision that vacated Lease Sale 257 and inquiring about the status of the 2022-2027 BOEM National Offshore Continental Shelf Oil and Gas leasing Program. In part, the members wrote:

“The only offshore lease sale held by this administration, Lease Sale 257, was developed under the 2017-2022 leasing plan finalized by the Obama administration. While the Biden administration has asserted that it only moved forward with the lease sale after being forced by the court, your Department correctly and independently concluded that Lease Sale 257 “meets the purpose of and need for the proposed action, balances regional and national policy considerations, and includes appropriate measures to minimize potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.” DOI further determined that this lease sale “is subject to adequate environmental safeguards and is consistent with the maintenance of competition and the meeting of national energy needs.”

The letter continues:

“We were disappointed in the court’s decision to affirm the environmental groups’ biased, anti-consumer claim. In fact, the global marketplace has demonstrated that DOI’s original analysis was correct. Specifically, U.S. oil production has decreased from nearly 12.5 million barrels per day to 11.8 million barrels per day, while global demand has increased substantially. U.S. imports of Russian crude oil and petroleum products rose to a record level in 2021. DOI’s original conclusion that reduced federal production leads to substitution of production from other global sources is reality.

“We were further disappointed to see the court’s perplexing decision to vacate Lease Sale 257 altogether, rather than allowing the leasing process to move forward while DOI addresses the court’s concerns. The court’s remedy of vacating an offshore lease sale after confidential bids have already been unsealed and made public, but before leases have been issued, is unprecedented. We were surprised that DOI took no position on the appropriate remedy and has chosen not to appeal the district court’s decision. In doing so, the Department failed to defend the integrity of the statutorily mandated confidential bidding process under OCSLA. This is especially concerning, given that past NEPA concerns have been addressed without a complete reversal of a sale.”

Read the full letter here.

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