Biden’s Offshore Drilling Plan Could Bring New Lease Sales

(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration opened the door to selling new oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska in a move likely to anger climate activists pushing to see a domestic ramp down for fossil fuels.

The Interior Department is proposing as many as 11 lease sales over the next five years, according to draft plan made public Friday. They include 10 in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet off the Alaskan coast. The plan also includes an option to conduct no lease sales. Similar to the previous drilling plan, the proposal bars new leases off both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

“From Day One, President Biden and I have made clear our commitment to transition to a clean energy economy,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “Today, we put forward an opportunity for the American people to consider and provide input on the future of offshore oil and gas leasing.”

The proposal is only an initial step in the process, with several months of public comment and other reviews before it could be finalized. Under federal law, auctions of offshore oil and gas drilling rights can only be held under the formal five-year plans. The current five-year plan expired Thursday.