Despite Campaign Promise to the Contrary, Biden Administration Leases Offshore Waters


The Biden administration has auctioned off 308 oil and gas leases earlier this month, totaling 1.7 million acres in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and bringing in $190 million in revenue. Many sources cite this as the biggest single sale since oil prices peaked in 2014.

While campaigning for presidential office, then-nominee Joe Biden promised to suspend lease sales on federal lands and offshore waters. However, once taking office, Biden reversed his stance and ordered the Department of the Interior to follow through with previously budgeted sales and leases in the Gulf of Mexico. However, a court order forced the administration to reverse this order back.

“The Biden-Harris administration is continuing its comprehensive review of its offshore and onshore oil and gas leasing programs and initiating reforms,” Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said in a statement. “Moving forward, BOEM will use updated greenhouse gas emission models to take substitution impacts and foreign oil consumption into account, resulting in the most robust projections ever of the climate impacts of offshore lease sales.”

The oil and gas association American Petroleum Institute (API) has saluted the sale as a symbol of economic success. Senior officials believe the resumption of leases in the Gulf of Mexico will help stimulate national and local economies, as well as lower gas prices as it returns to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity. “U.S. oil and natural gas production on federal lands and waters delivers the affordable and reliable energy America needs while providing much-needed funding for conservation, education and infrastructure,” said API Senior Vice President Frank Macchiarola.

Many environmentalist organizations have criticized this move. Leading environmental nonprofits, such as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth, are suing to reverse the sale. “The [lease sale decision] is based on unlawful analysis that ignores climate change and the serious environmental injustice posed to the Gulf’s frontline communities… our final hope lies with the federal court to remedy [this],” said Hallie Templeton, legal director for Friends of the Earth.

We at Herd Law Firm support the leasing of well sites in the Gulf of Mexico as a rich source of jobs and resources, as America still relies on oil. We represent many of the hard- working men and women who bring and process oil and gas, and who provide for their families every day with their sacrifices. We call upon employers, owners and operators of these drilling rigs and vessels to ensure that all operations are carried out safely, so these brave men and women can return to their families when their hitches are over.

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