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Senate’s Top Energy Democrat: The Leasing Pause Is In Fact A Ban

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Interior Sec. Deb Haaland is scheduled to testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee today on her agency’s proposed fiscal year 2023 budget. But early reports of expected testimony show the committee wants answers on the federal oil and natural gas program as well.

As E&E News reported:

“’Almost a year and a half into the administration, and as the world begs for North American oil and gas, we still have no new leases,’ Manchin will say.”

And as Politico further explained in its Morning Energy newsletter:

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is in for an icy reception from Senate Energy Chair Joe Manchin today over the cancellation of offshore oil lease sales…

‘When you were before the committee early last year, I told you that I supported the administration taking a brief pause to review the oil and gas program before resuming lease sales. In July, while you were here during last year’s budget hearing, I made clear that the time for a pause had come and gone,’ Manchin will say, according to a draft opening statement shared with ME. ‘I’m sorry to say it has become crystal clear that the ‘pause’ is in fact a ‘ban’.”

Committee members pressed the Secretary hard last July on when leasing would resume, as well as when the department would release its draft report on the federal oil and gas program.

The report came out in November and lease sales are scheduled to take place in June, but the matter is hardly settled, as Manchin’s draft testimony indicates.

With the recent cancellation of the remaining 2021 and 2022 offshore sales and the administration’s continued effort to overturn the federal injunction requiring them to hold sales, it’s no wonder that policymakers still have questions.

Pair that with the relative silence on the matter from Sec. Haaland up to this point and comments from White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy that the president “remains absolutely committed to not moving forward with additional drilling on public lands,” and one can see why there’s bipartisan agreement that the so-called leasing pause is actually a ban.

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