Biden administration’s offshore drilling plan delayed

June 30 (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Thursday delayed the rollout of a promised five-year offshore oil and gas development plan by the end of the month, sources said.

Home Office Secretary Deb Haaland pledged in May to unveil the draft proposal before the current plan expires on June 30. The department will not be able to hold offshore oil and gas lease sales until a new plan is finalized.

Briefings with officials that were due to take place on Thursday ahead of a public announcement have been unexpectedly delayed, sources say. The reason for and duration of the delay were unclear.

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The interior would make no comment.

The Interior had recommended to the White House that all federal offshore oil and gas drilling auctions over the next five years be located in the Gulf of Mexico, where the drilling industry has already been concentrated for decades, according to two sources. close to the file. The White House may make changes to include other regions.

The expected proposal comes as US President Joe Biden seeks to balance his goal of moving the country away from fossil fuels with a Congressional demand to hold regular drilling auctions and intense political pressure to boost energy supply to mitigate the surge in inflation.

In recent years, the Department of the Interior has leased areas off the coast of Alaska. And former President Donald Trump had proposed a vast expansion of drilling sales to cover more than 90% of coastal waters, including areas off California that hadn’t been offered since the 1980s and new areas. in the Atlantic and the Arctic. These plans have been blocked by legal challenges.

Biden, conversely, had campaigned on a promise to end all new federal drilling to fight climate change. But his early efforts to suspend the lease were also blocked in court.

The Interior last held an offshore oil and gas auction in November, located in the Gulf of Mexico, but a court order later canceled the sale, saying the administration had no not properly taken into account its impact on climate change.

Offshore oil and gas production, which occurs mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, brought about $4 billion in revenue to US coffers last year. The Gulf accounts for about 15% of national oil production and 2% of natural gas production, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

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Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Washington and Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Stephen Coates

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