President Joe Biden’s administration unveiled a five-year proposal for offshore oil and gas development on Friday focused almost entirely on the Gulf of Mexico, as it seeks to balance efforts to fight climate change with its legal requirement to hold drilling auctions.
The proposed plan includes no more than 10 possible sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet off the coast of Alaska, the Interior Department said, adding that areas of development could be winnowed further after public comment.
The proposal mirrors the recently expired five-year offshore drilling plan put forward by former President Barack Obama’s administration. It is much narrower than one proposed but not adopted in 2018 by former President Donald Trump’s administration, which offered acreage off most of the Atlantic and Pacific as well.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said the proposal does not mean the administration will move forward with any of the auctions.
“From Day One, President Biden and I have made clear our commitment to transition to a clean energy economy,” Haaland said. “Today, we put forward an opportunity for the American people to consider and provide input on the future of offshore oil and gas leasing. The time for the public to weigh in on our future is now.”
Release of the document, which is mandated by Congress, came a day after the expiration of the previous plan, and late in the day ahead of the three-day July Fourth holiday weekeND.