Speaking at a Senate hearing, West Virginia senator Joe Manchin (D) criticized the Biden administration, saying the oil and gas industry industry “needs signals from the administration that they will support oil and gas development and production.”
“We too need a realistic and reasonable plan that is responsive in the immediate term to our domestic needs and those of our allies while being forward thinking in the short term and the long term,” Manchin stated. “The first, immediate action item is to increase our domestic oil and gas production on both federal and non-federal lands. This is going to take both the administration and the industry to step up to the plate. Stop pointing fingers, take action and just get it done.”
“The administration has been pointing to 9,000 on-shore drilling permits that have already been issued for federal leases that have not yet been drilled,” he continued. “What I’m told is that while this number is a little bit higher than normal, it’s not extremely out of the ordinary, especially considering that 7,600 of the 9,000 of these permits have been extended past their initial 2-year term by the Bureau of Land Management. A leaseholder has to apply for this drilling permit months, if not more, in advance due to the review process and there is no guarantee that conditions will be right in the market or in the ground to drill with a given permit.”
He opined that oil and gas companies have been reluctant to press forward for various reasons: “With the oil prices going negative in April of 2020, and the COVID pandemic, it isn’t surprising that companies ask for extensions and slowed down over the last few years, however, as I said with the leasing pause, it is well past time for the pause to end, for well drillers and the administration to move forward. So, yes, I’m calling on industry and the shareholders to invest and put production before profits. We need you to ramp up on these existing leases and with those existing permits because that’s the fastest thing that we can do.”
But then he turned to the Biden administration: “But industry also needs signals from the administration that they will support oil and gas development and production. That includes taking concrete steps, like working on a new five-year plan for the Gulf of Mexico since we know that the current plan expires at the end of June. The Administration’s failure to act to on the five-year plan combined with the failure to appeal the vacated lease-sale means that we’re almost certainly looking at no offshore lease sales until sometime next year, to say nothing about the failure to hold onshore sales.”
He slammed the Department of the Interior: “The fact of the matter is Gulf oil is the heaviest we produce and our refineries are well calibrated for it. It makes no sense at all to me that the decision was made by Interior to not appeal a ruling throwing out the largest Gulf lease sale, particularly when that decision was made several days after Russia invaded Ukraine. We cannot take a shot-sighted approach that pretends two years with lease-sales will have no impact on our domestic oil and gas production just because the brunt of production impact from the lack of leasing hasn’t hit yet, doesn’t mean we can ignore them.”
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