At the start of President Joe Biden's term last year, he suspended the approval of new oil and gas drilling permits on federal land to fulfill one of his campaign promises. Now, Biden seems to be willing to violate this promise to control the rapidly increasing gas prices in America. (Related: Biden's inability to control inflation makes him "worse than Jimmy Carter," says Home Depot co-founder.)
According to the Department of the Interior, the decision came as a result of a "robust environmental review, engagement with Tribes and communities and prioritizing the American people's broad interests in public lands."
The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will be making available 144,000 acres of federal land for leasing by energy companies. This is a massive reduction from the 733,000 acres that had previously been under evaluation.
Companies that win bids for oil and gas drilling rights on federal land will be charged royalties of 18.75 percent of the value of the extracted oil and gas products – a massive increase from the previous rate of 12.5 percent during the administration of President Donald Trump. This is supposedly to "ensure fair return for the American taxpayer and on par with rates charged by states and private landowners," wrote the Interior Department.
"For too long, the federal oil and gas leasing programs have prioritized the wants of extractive industries above local communities, the natural environment, the impact on our air and water, the needs of Tribal Nations and, moreover, other uses of our shared public lands," said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in a statement. "Today, we begin to reset how and what we consider to be the highest and best use of Americans' resources for the benefit of all current and future generations."
The administration will offer drilling rights on federal lands to oil and gas companies starting in June. The auctions will involve federal lands in at least eight states – Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
The vast majority of the federal lands up for lease are located in Wyoming. BLM said it will offer 131,771 acres to oil and gas companies in the state alone – down from the originally evaluated 550,000 acres.
BLM also reduced the federal lands that will be up for leasing in Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Utah.
In Utah, for example, BLM said it will only offer one 160-acre piece of federal land in an online auction slated for June 28. This is down from the originally planned six parcels of land on more than 6,000 acres.
The announcement to resume the leasing of federal land for oil and gas drilling drew a confused response from the oil and gas industry.
Jeff Eshelman, CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said Biden is sending a "mixed message" that is "strangely incoherent."
"This administration has begged for more oil from foreign nations and has blamed American energy producers for price gouging and sitting on leases," he said. "Now, under pressure, it announces a lease sale with major royalty increases that will add uncertainty to drilling plans for years."
Clark Williams-Derry, an energy analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, warned that this very limited offering from the federal government will not do much to lower oil and gas prices.
"There's probably a real political need to be seen as doing something about high oil prices, high gasoline prices," said Williams-Derry. "But this is not going to have much of an effect."
He noted that less than 10 percent of all oil and gas produced in the U.S. comes from federal land. Williams-Derry noted that companies that do have permits to drill on federal land are not using them.
Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, said too many government regulations make it unprofitable to drill on federal land.
"This administration has chosen to use as many of those pieces of red tape as they possibly can to wrap us up, to slow down production on federal lands," said Sgamma.
Learn more about the questionable policies of the Biden administration by reading the latest articles at JoeBiden.news.
Watch this episode of "The War Room" from InfoWars as host Owen Shroyer talks about Biden giving away America's strategic oil reserves to prop up Europe.