Senate Energy Committee Examines Offshore Energy Development Policies

 Energy Hearing
VIDEO: Hyde-Smith Focuses on Harm of Ongoing Halt of New Offshore Energy Leasing.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today argued that a long-term continuation of President Biden’s suspension of federal oil and natural gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico could lead to greater economic and environmental harm for Mississippi and surrounding states.

Hyde-Smith addressed the ramifications of the suspension of offshore leasing during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to examine offshore energy development.  Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Amanda Lefton, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) were among the witnesses.

“The testimony we received at this hearing shows us again that maintaining a moratorium on offshore oil and gas leases will cost us dearly economically and environmentally.  For Mississippi it means jobs at risk, reduced tax revenue, and less funding for conservation programs on our coast,” Hyde-Smith said.

On Jan. 27, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14008, which directed the U.S. Department of the Interior and BOEM to pause new oil and natural gas leases in offshore waters and on federal lands pending completion of a comprehensive review.  The review will include an assessment of leasing practices and the possible adjustment of royalties associated with energy production.

Hyde-Smith argued that federal environmental requirements on U.S. offshore energy activities make it some of the most environmentally friendly in the world.

“Because the United States has strict regulations and the advancements in technology through industry continue to reduce the environmental footprint from offshore production, why should we stop progress on being energy independent and once again rely on foreign production that is both unsafe and less environmentally conscious,” Hyde-Smith asked.

Lefton indicated that the Interior Department’s review of energy production practices on federal lands could be completed by early summer.

Hyde-Smith also tackled the harm caused by the Biden executive order during the confirmation hearing for Interior Secretary Deborah Haaland in February.

Offshore oil and gas production provides direct and indirect jobs for thousands of Mississippians and is a source of millions of dollars annually for conservation projects in the state.

The Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf contains an estimated 48 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas.