As Interior Dept. mulls “no lease option,” Senators encourage 10 lease sales in Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) joined a group of Republican Senators in a letter demanding the Biden administration end its assault on domestic oil and gas production and continue to sell oil and gas leases on federal land and water.

The push comes in response to the U.S. Department of Interior’s draft proposal for the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, in which the Department hinted that it might cancel future lease sales for the next five years. 

“While the release of a “Proposed Program,” after months of delay, is a step in the right direction, we are concerned by the Department’s suggestion that a no lease option is a possibility for the final program,” the Senators wrote. “Further, failure to conduct any lease sales which encourage bidding could, as the Department says, cause increased air emissions from substitute production, primarily from overseas imports. We are also closely monitoring efforts by the administration to halt lease sales  or to make lease sales economically unattractive in order to discourage bidding.”

“American families are struggling to keep up with rising costs due to inflation, high energy prices, and persistent supply chain issues,” the Senators added. “It is our obligation to do everything within our power to help ease these burdens and remove this uncertainty for both Americans and our allies.”

The Senators additionally call for 10 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico to counter the potential of the Department’s decision.

“One of the most effective ways we can do this is to increase future domestic oil and natural gas production through long-term leasing certainty,” the letter continued. “That is why we are encouraging 10 lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one lease sale in the Cook Inlet in the next five-year offshore leasing program.”

“The Department can help domestic energy production and put American energy consumers first,” the letter concluded. “While the Department has awarded leases to the high bidders in Lease Sale 257, the Department should also 1) conduct the three congressionally mandated offshore lease sales  with economically competitive terms and robust acreage that will attract significant industry interest; and 2) offer quarterly lease sales with desirable acreage across federal lands.  Finalizing the five-year program with a commitment to semi-annual area-wide lease sales will also be a big step for American energy security and demonstrate to the American people the administration is serious about actions that can contribute to lower energy costs.”