WASHINGTON, D.C. – Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal the Trump administration’s development of a new five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program has been delayed indefinitely.
According to theWall Street Journal report, Bernhardt said the ruling by a federal judge in Alaska last month may force Interior Department officials to wait until the case goes through potentially lengthy appeals before they can make a final decision on what offshore areas to open for leasing to the oil and gas industry.
“By the time the court rules, that may be discombobulating to our plan,” Bernhardt was quoted as saying.
Last month US District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that anObama-era ban on drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and areas of the Atlantic Ocean must remain in place unless Congress passes legislation to end it.
National Ocean Industries Association PresidentRandall Luthi said the department should consider moving ahead with the proposed plan “with the caveat that the areas that are affected by the previous withdrawal could be excluded from an eventual sale. A hard stop negates months of environmental and economic analysis that could be used to move the plan forward. Again, this is not a final plan, it is a proposed plan.”
He pointed out that while the offshore industry is starting torecover from the downturn, companies may decide to invest billions of dollars into foreign offshore energy markets “free from litigious activism.”
Luthi added: “What cannot be delayed, however, is the importance of domestic production to meet the growing demand for affordable, reliable American energy. While Democratic presidential candidates are bowing to Keep It in the Ground activists, California is launching yet another an investigation into the state’s exorbitant gasoline prices (Californians paid close to $10 billion for premium-priced Saudi crude oil during 2018) and New England stayed warm this winter as residents relied on imports of Russian LNG. It is clear that the high-energy prices and policies of California and New England should serve as a real a warning to what happens when rational energy policies that promote domestic development are abandoned.”