Miss. Senator Presses Land and Minerals Management Nominee on Compliance with Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act

091521-RH6-812 Ag Dairy Hearing
VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Questions Administration Compliance with Offshore Energy Law.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today sought assurances that the Biden administration, now under court order to allow offshore energy leasing, will not attempt to impose policies that make future leasing economically unfeasible.

Hyde-Smith directed her questions to Laura Daniel-Davis, who testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as part of her confirmation process to become Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“I remain concerned that offshore energy production will face continued challenges under the Biden administration.  It is only moving forward with legally-mandated lease sales because of a court order and not because the administration has seen the light on the importance of American-produced oil and gas,” Hyde-Smith said following the hearing.

Hyde-Smith posed questions to determine whether the nominee would fully comply with the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, including overcoming a delayed start in delivering the 2022-2027 National Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program, as required by law.

“Congress enacted the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act primarily to facilitate the federal government’s leasing of its offshore mineral resources and energy resources.  In this law, Congress stated expressly that offshore resources ‘should be made available for expeditious and orderly development.’  Ms. Daniel-Davis, what assurances will you give us that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will not impose burdensome stipulations that make new leases economically unfeasible and therefore effectively unavailable for development, contrary to clear congressional intent?” Hyde-Smith asked.

Daniel-Davis responded by stating her support for complying with the law and by citing the need to consult with various stakeholders in developing federal oil and gas leasing policies.

The Interior Department in late August appealed a District Court preliminary injunction that stopped enforcement of President Biden’s executive order to pause all new federal oil and gas leasing.  At the same time, the agency announced steps to comply with its legal obligations to undertake the Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico.

“For offshore leasing, there is still more to be done in order to fully comply with the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and to ensure the 5-year plan is completed before a quickly-approaching deadline,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The Gulf of Mexico is vital to our nation’s energy security by providing approximately 20 percent of America’s oil and natural gas production.” 

The Assistant Secretary of the Interior Land and Minerals Management is responsible for management of all federal lands and waters, and associated mineral and non-mineral resources.