Chair Grijalva Statement on Interior Department’s Proposed Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) took the next step in finalizing a new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program by proposing no more than 11 lease sales between 2023 and 2028 in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska.

“Holding any new offshore oil and gas lease sales over the next five years is a lose-lose for Americans. It will do nothing to help lower prices at the pump, and it will make our emissions goals virtually impossible to achieve,” Chair Grijalva said. “Our public lands and waters are already responsible for nearly a quarter of the country’s carbon pollution each year. Adding any new lease sales to that equation while the climate crisis is unfolding all around us is nonsensical.

“While I’m obviously glad to see a significant decrease in the amount of new potential offshore leasing compared to what the last administration proposed, I certainly don’t consider that a comforting standard. We know that oil and gas companies are already hoarding 8 million acres of offshore leases they aren’t using. Handing them additional leases simply gives them more supply for manipulating the market and maximizing their profits, as we’ve already seen with their record-breaking earnings this year.

“Despite my disappointment in leaving the door open to nearly a dozen new lease sales over the next five years, I do take solace in knowing that the Biden administration has made it clear they will listen to frontline environmental justice communities and consult with tribes. After gathering additional public input from Gulf Coast and Alaskan communities over the coming months, I’m hopeful that BOEM comes to the correct conclusion and issues a final program with no offshore sales.”

Contrary to industry talking points, oil and gas companies already hold significant offshore oil and gas reserves that are not yet producing under federal lease. Any new leases will take decades to produce energy resources, making lease sales an impractical solution for lowering U.S. gas prices or responding to the increased overseas demand due to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

As a new analysis shows, forgoing new Gulf of Mexico leases in public waters will support U.S. efforts to reduce carbon pollution and transition to a clean-energy economy while having no impact on oil prices until the 2030s. The decline in oil production would also be negligible; absent new Gulf leasing, U.S. oil production would still reach a staggering 13.5 million barrels per day in 2035.

This past January, expert witnesses testified at a Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing that reducing offshore oil and gas leasing significantly reduces total global greenhouse gas emissions and will help the U.S. achieve its ambitious climate goals.

Press Contact

Media Contact: Lindsay Gressard

202-225-6065 | cell: 202-740-4715