Biden leasing plan likely waiting for Senate vote on BLM director, say analysts

July 27, 2021
Interior Department expected to 'steer clear of hot-button issues' until confirmation vote.

Offshore staff

WASHINGTON, DC – The Biden administration will likely release its long-awaited plan for oil and gas leasing on federal lands and offshore Gulf of Mexico as soon as the US Senate votes on a key Interior Department nominee, according to a recent S&P Global Platts report.

Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Land Management is awaiting a final vote by the full Senate after advancing from committee with a party-line tie, which Vice President Kamala Harris can break.

Stone-Manning’s environmentalist background split the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a contentious July 22 hearing.

The S&P Global Platts report quoted Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners, to say: “We think her confirmation vote could mark a Biden administration pivot towards a more restrictive federal lands policy.”

Until the Senate votes on Stone-Manning, Book expects Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and other Biden administration officials to “steer clear of hot-button issues that could potentially complicate support by Senate Democrats from fossil producer states.”

Two lawsuits brought by 14 states with fossil fuel production have challenged Interior’s leasing review, with one of the suits getting a US district court judge in Louisiana in June to order an end to the moratorium.

The judge granted a preliminary injunction in the case and ordered Interior to put back on the calendar Lease Sale 257 in western and central Gulf of Mexico and Lease Sale 258 in Alaska's Cook Inlet. The case’s next status conference is reportedly set for August 17.