End the Federal Leasing Pause – Unleash American Energy
Posted June 21, 2021
Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction blocking President Biden’s policy pausing new natural gas and oil leases on federal lands and waters. The decision identified major limits on the federal government’s ability to restrict energy access and concluded that the Department of the Interior must resume lease sales, both onshore and offshore.
On behalf of U.S. natural gas and oil operators, API urges the administration to move quickly to comply with the court order and end the federal leasing pause.
The administration’s action restricting access to our homegrown energy resources is unlawful, and the short-sighted decision has ongoing consequences for America’s national security, economic recovery and environmental progress. Curbing U.S. energy production means:
- Greater Dependence on Foreign Oil – Pausing new natural gas and oil leasing effectively reduces our domestic energy supply, even as the long-term demand for fuels continues to grow. This means the U.S. will likely import more oil from foreign countries, undermining our current geopolitical advantage as the world’s leading energy producer.
- Energy-Related Job Losses and GDP Decline – API analysis of a complete ban on federal leasing and development projects shows that such a policy could cost nearly 1 million U.S. jobs by 2022 and cause U.S. GDP to decline by $700 billion through 2030.
- Increasing Carbon Dioxide Emissions – Natural gas fuel-switching in electricity generation has been the leading driver of U.S. emissions reductions. Without development on federal lands and waters, carbon dioxide emissions in the domestic power sector could increase 5.5% by 2030, due to an uptick in coal-fired power generation
Additionally, revenues generated from energy activity on federal lands and waters fund conservation projects and government programs across the country. In 2019, the Department of the Interior disbursed nearly $12 billion from energy production to federal and state governments. And in fiscal year 2021, offshore natural gas and oil development provided $302 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, portions of which supported habitat restoration and hurricane protection along the Gulf Coast.
It is past time to end this federal leasing pause, which threatens America’s economy and national security, deprives communities of much-needed revenue and counteracts our global climate solutions.
About The Author
Lem Smith is API’s vice president for Federal Relations. Lem joined API in February 2020 as vice president for Upstream Policy & Industry Operations. He previously served as a principal at Squire Patton Boggs, an international law and public-policy firm, where he advised private and public sector clients on federal and multi-state policy matters and provided counsel on communications strategies, campaign affairs and crises management. Previously, Lem was director, U.S. Government & Regulatory Affairs at Encana, and responsible for all aspects of U.S. government relations and regulatory policy matters at the state and federal levels. Prior to that, Lem was director of Government Relations for Kerr-McGee Corporation. Lem began his career on Capitol Hill, working for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker (Mississippi) and the late U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood (Georgia), where he negotiated key member priorities within the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPAct). Lem is a graduate of the University of Mississippi.
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