US publishes plan for offshore oil and gas auctions to be executed in the future

The US government on Friday unveiled a five-year proposal for offshore oil and gas development, centered in the Gulf of Mexico, in an attempt to balance efforts to fight climate change with its legal requirement to hold drilling auctions.

The proposed plan includes no more than 10 potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in Cook Inlet off the coast of Alaska, the Interior Department said, adding that development areas could be further reduced after comments from the public.

The proposal mirrors the recently expired five-year offshore drilling plan put forth by the administration of former President Barack Obama. It is much narrower than one proposed but not adopted in 2018 by former President Donald Trump’s administration, which offered acres across most of the Atlantic and Pacific.

Home Secretary Deb Haaland said the proposal does not mean the government will go ahead with any of the auctions.

“From day one, President (Joe) Biden and I have made clear our commitment to transitioning to a clean energy economy,” Haaland said.

“Today we present an opportunity for the American people to consider and have a say in the future of offshore oil and gas leasing. The time for the public to weigh in on our future is now.”

The release of the document, which is mandated by Congress, came a day after the previous plan expired.

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