President Joe Biden promised as a candidate that he would end all oil and gas leases on federal land. During a debate with former President Donald Trump in October, 2020, Biden said, “I would transition from the oil industry, yes, because the oil industry pollutes significantly.”
“No more drilling on federal lands, no more drilling including offshore—no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill—period,” Biden said.
Who knew he would act so quickly to end oil production in America?
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration has leased fewer acres for oil-and-gas drilling offshore and on federal land than any other administration in its early stages dating back to the end of World War II.
Since he took office in early 2021, Biden’s Interior Department leased 126,228 acres for drilling through Aug. 20, 2022. Leasing is down nearly 97% from the first 19 months of the Trump Administration.
“No other president since Richard Nixon in 1969-70 leased out fewer than 4.4 million acres at this stage in his first term,” the authors wrote.
President Harry Truman was the last to lease out fewer acres than Biden. Between 1945-46, his administration leased 65,658 acres. That was before offshore drilling was possible or practical, and just represented onshore acreage. Today, offshore leases represent most of the federal oil-and-gas tracts. It’s an apples and oranges comparison.
“The president said he was going to stop leasing. And he’s been remarkably successful,” said David Bernhardt, Interior secretary in the Trump administration, who in 2020 announced plans for an oil and gas leasing program in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an action undone by Biden on his first day of office, along with revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
The analysis was based on Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management data, and does not include land leased in Alaska since the late 1990s, little of which fell into the periods analyzed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
At the same time he has been shutting down oil leases, Biden has depleted the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, Petroleum Reserve, which is at its lowest level in 37 years. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve page at the Department of Energy is broken and not reporting actual inventory at this time, but elsewhere it appears the inventory has shrunk to 450 million barrels of its 714 million-barrel capacity, as of August. The Administration has released 1 million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
At the same time, the Biden Administration is pressuring banks and investment funds to not lend to any company financing fossil fuels.
“While the Biden administration has been in office for six quarters, it has conducted auctions in just one of them. That happened in late June, after the administration came under increasing pressure to tame soaring gasoline prices at the pump in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” according to the story.
The Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 requires onshore oil and gas leasing at least quarterly, the Journal reports. There appears to be no penalty from the Department of Justice for the president breaking the law.
“Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan boosted leasing to record highs in the 1970s and early ’80s in response to geopolitical oil crises. Mr. Reagan still holds the record, leasing nearly 48 million acres in his first 19 months, almost three times as much as any other president,” the newspaper reported.
Behind the paywall, the Wall Street Journal report is at this link.