At Hearing, Senator Challenges Interior Sec. on Complying with Federal Ruling to Resume Lease Sales

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) expressed dissatisfaction with a lack of action to resume offshore energy leasing by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. A federal court recently overruled President Biden’s executive order to “pause” the new lease sales.

During the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to review the FY2022 budget, Hyde-Smith asks Haaland about resuming compliance with the federal ruling. The committee was looking into the budget for the U.S. Department of the Interior in which the Biden administration has requested a 17 percent budget increase, whereas the administration only recommends a 1.6 percent increase for Defense and a .2 percent increase for Homeland Security.

“I am deeply dissatisfied with inaction and lack of response from the Interior Department when it comes to following the law and court orders regarding offshore oil and gas leases,” Hyde-Smith said following the hearing,” said Hyde-Smith. “A federal court judge ruled President Biden’s ‘pause’ on new leases unlawful, yet the Secretary and the Department are unclear on whether the lease ban is still in place or when they might act to resume lease sales.  This is dissatisfying not only because it does not follow the law, but because these tactics will increasingly affect more and more families who rely on offshore energy production for their livelihoods.”

She then questioned Haaland regarding the pending interim report on a oil and gas leasing ban, compliance with the court decision, and the outlook for the Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 257—a lease sale paused since March.

Hyde-Smith who has largely been opposite the decisions made by the Biden administration particularly on the oil and gas production topic, said she will continue to pressure Haaland and other officials to support responsible fossil fuel production.

“It is concerning to me that many of the questions and concerns we’ve raised over the past few months still lack answers today,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Right now, this committee and my constituents need answers.  This is an issue that deserves greater transparency.”