The new prime minister of Great Britain is considering freezing energy rates as a result of citizens’ energy bills skyrocketing by more than 100% and Elisabeth Borne, the prime minister of France, has warned her country’s companies that energy “rationing” could occur this winter. Due to an overworked electrical grid, residents of California may experience rolling blackouts and receive instructions to not charge their EVs.
Now - what is Biden doing?
According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, President Joe Biden has restricted energy production more than any president in history. “President Biden’s Interior Department leased 126,228 acres for drilling through Aug. 20, his first 19 months in office,” the analysis found. “No other president since Richard Nixon in 1969-70 leased out fewer than 4.4 million acres at this stage in his first term.”
As a candidate, Biden promised to ban drilling on public lands while arguing that the country must switch to sustainable energy. Biden softened his position as oil prices rose during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for increasing oil supplies to curb spiraling inflation, and he still rejected a leasing program, which has long been a go-to tool for presidents seeking to increase American energy production. The program has been declining because of oil and gas firms avoiding federal lands and offshore drilling because of the boom in oil.
The Interior Department must make 60 million offshore acres and at least 2 million acres of federal land available to oil and gas companies each year for the next ten years per the Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden signed into law on August 16th. The administration must fulfill these conditions to approve some wind and solar energy development.
The above still leaves room for the Biden administration or other parties to impede oil and gas development. Offering places that are unattractive to the industry could be one strategy; however, the administration may alternatively choose to not allow the development of wind and solar energy on federal land. According to WSJ, the Interior Department said that it’s committed to abiding by terms of the Inflation Reduction Act, “including direction regarding the federal oil and gas programs.”
During Biden’s 19 months in office, the Interior Department has granted 203 leases for the exploitation of oil and gas, yet the Biden administration has not yet completed a sale for offshore drilling. The sale was canceled because the Biden administration chose not to appeal the ruling.