CBS News revealed the Biden administration canceled more oil and gas leases across the country this week as soaring gas prices reached new heights Wednesday.
The Department of Interior canceled plans to drill in more than 1 million acres in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, arguing “lack of industry interest,” on top of canceling a pair of leases in the Gulf of Mexico over “conflicting court rulings.”
“Until now, the White House had remained silent about the massive Alaska lease,” CBS reported Wednesday night, citing political headwinds against the president responsible for record-setting pain at the pump. According to AAA travel agency’s tracker, gas prices reached new milestone Wednesday, at a nationwide average of $4.40 a gallon of regular unleaded and $5.55 for diesel. The prior record for unleaded was set in March, at an average $4.33 per gallon regular, and diesel at $5.54. The latest inflation numbers also out Wednesday revealed all prices still rising at a rapid pace of 8.3 percent annually, exceeding expectations.
“They don’t want to get hit by Republicans in light of high gas prices,” explained an “environmental advocate” to CBS granted anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic related to White House discretion on the leases. “They’re getting killed on attacks based on inflation. The most visible sign of inflation is high gas prices.”
While Biden has blamed Russia’s war in Ukraine for the continued price hikes, the trends began long before President Vladimir Putin launched his February invasion, and analysts say it’s clear that Biden is making things worse by banning companies from exploring sources of U.S. energy independence.
Biden’s administration only resumed oil and gas leases on federal lands last month after a federal court ordered the government to do so following a 15-month suspension. The Department of Interior, however, offered only 20 percent of the lands initially nominated for oil and gas leases, complemented by a 50 percent spike in royalties from what’s extracted.
“President Biden remains absolutely committed to not moving forward with additional drilling on public lands,” White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy pledged on MSNBC.
The administration’s relentless animosity towards fossil fuels, showcased in its repeated cancelation of oil and gas projects, has chilled investment in the capital- and labor-intensive industry. This keeps production down despite rising demand at home and turmoil in markets abroad.
In Alaska, upon inauguration Biden canceled leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is forecast to hold between 4 to 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil. He closed another 7 million acres from the state’s National Petroleum Reserve off from development last month.
The president has turned to the nation’s emergency petroleum reserves for desperate political capital ahead of the November midterms. Voters antagonized by high gas prices, which also increase the cost of just about everything, will head to the polls in an already historically hostile election cycle to the president’s party in power. With no plans announced to restock the emergency supplies, Biden ordered the self-proclaimed “unprecedented” release of 1 million barrels of oil a day onto the market for the next six months beginning Sunday.