Biden restricts offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

 August 23, 2023

As millions of Americans struggle to keep pace with the rising cost of energy, President Biden released new restrictions on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the largest sources of petroleum in the U.S.

The move was expected after Biden reached a settlement last month with environmental groups to protect an endangered species of whale.

The "voluntary" restrictions apply across the entire northern Gulf between the 100 meter and 400-meter isobaths, a region that spans 11 million acres.

Biden targets oil

Under the new federal notice published Monday by the Department of Interior, oil and gas vessels are advised to operate only in the daytime and at speeds less than 10 knots.

"To the maximum extent practicable, lessees and operators should avoid transit through the Expanded Rice’s Whale Area after dusk and before dawn, and during other times of low visibility to further reduce the risk of vessel strike of Rice’s whales," the notice reads.

Industry groups allege Biden's restrictions are rooted in pseudoscience and will ultimately harm consumers. Critics also say the restrictions could cause safety hazards by limiting the amount of time vessels have to travel to port, which could make collisions more likely.

“We have serious concerns that the department has not adequately— if at all— engaged offshore safety professionals or safety enforcement agencies to assess and manage potential safety risks,” National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) said in a letter to the administration.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said Biden's new limits would force vessels to operate at suboptimal speeds or idle outside of the protected zone - which could lead to an increase in carbon emissions and reduced economic productivity.

"Today’s notice from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is yet another example of the Biden administration working to restrict American energy, which could lead to higher energy costs and weaken U.S. security," the API's vice president of upstream policy, Holly Hopkins, said.

Picking winners and losers

The Interior Department approved a large commercial wind farm off of Rhode Island on Tuesday, a sign of Biden's commitment to picking winners and losers in the energy sector.

"The Interior Department is committed to the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to the clean energy future and delivering clean, reliable renewable energy to help respond to the climate crisis, lower energy costs, and create good-paying union jobs," Secretary Deb Haaland said.

The administration announced last month it was making 300,000 acres of the Gulf available for wind farms to lease.

Biden has made an aggressive push to replace fossil fuels with unreliable "renewable" sources such as solar and wind - jeopardizing the nation's energy security in the long-run.

Gas prices are rising again, nearing $4 a gallon nationally despite the constant efforts of Biden and the press to paint a rosy picture of the economy.

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