GOP Senators Call For End Of Oil And Gas Lease Permit Delays

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, a group of Republican senators led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter to President Biden’s Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo demanding the end of permit delays that are preventing American energy production.

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The letter called for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to issue the necessary permits to bring additional production online from existing federal oil and gas leases.

“While the Biden Administration and Members of Congress fault the domestic oil and gas industry for sitting idle on over 9,000 drilling permits and millions of acres in ‘inactive leases’, NMFS’s permitting delays represent one example of the Administration’s de facto ban on new drilling – impeding domestic oil and gas investment, exploration, and production,” the senators wrote.

The letter notes that the permitting delays are mainly due to “three administration-made and admitted mistakes” due to mathematic errors in calculating the number of endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico in a 2021 Final Rule.

The senators called on Raimondo to “expeditiously correct these errors by putting in place … tangible short-term solutions to stop any further permitting delays,” including an interim rule allowing NMFS to continue issuing permits, quickly issuing a new Final Rule to correct the previous miscalculations, and shifting additional resources to alternative permitting processes.

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“It is unacceptable that agency miscalculations have restricted access to safe, secure, and reliable domestic oil and gas production through substantial, unnecessary, and arbitrary permitting delays,” the senators added.

The letter comes the same week that the United States set a new record for gas prices with all 50 states reaching over $4 per gallon on average, according to a new report from the American Automobile Association (AAA).

“The high cost of oil, the key ingredient in gasoline, is driving these high pump prices for consumers,” said AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross. “Even the annual seasonal demand dip for gasoline during the lull between spring break and Memorial Day, which would normally help lower prices, is having no effect this year.”

As explained in the report, “total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 3.6 million bbl to 225 million bbl last week…[C]rude prices remain volatile, and as they surge, pump prices follow suit. Pump prices will likely face upward pressure as oil prices stay above $105 per barrel.”

The average cost for a gallon of gas in the United States was $4.48 at the time the report was released, which was 40 cents more than the previous month and $1.43 more than a year ago.