WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is canceling oil drilling lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet, triggering furious responses from Republicans, who are blaming President Biden’s energy policies for high gas prices.
A spokeswoman for the Interior Department, Melissa Schwartz, said in a statement that the Cook Inlet lease sale would not proceed because of a “lack of industry interest.” She said the planned sale of two leases in the Gulf of Mexico was being scrapped because of “conflicting court rulings,” which she said affected the agency’s ability to work on the leases.
The decisions come at a challenging time for the Biden administration. The average price for a gallon of gas nationwide hit $4.37 on Tuesday, a record according to the AAA. Surging prices at the pump have compounded inflationary pressures for consumers, which Mr. Biden this week said will be his top domestic priority.
The leasing program presents a dilemma for Mr. Biden. He has promised progressive Democrats and environmental groups that he would propel the country away from its dependence on the fossil fuels that are driving climate change. At the same time, he has taken steps to increase oil supplies to try to bring down gas prices, including calling on the oil industry to pump more crude.