The Biden administration has now canceled one of the most high-profile oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, removing millions of acres from possible drilling as U.S. gas prices reach record highs.
It's just the latest move by President Biden to oppose oil and gas production in the U.S. On his first day in office, Biden immediately canceled the Keystone XL pipeline which would have provided more oil to the U.S.
The Interior Department announced the latest anti-oil decision Wednesday night, claiming a lack of interest in drilling off the Alaska coast and arguing that "conflicting court rulings" have complicated drilling efforts in the Gulf of Mexico where the bulk of U.S. offshore drilling takes place.
"Due to lack of industry interest in leasing in the area, the Department will not move forward with the proposed Cook Inlet OCS oil and gas lease sale 258," a department spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement Thursday.
"The Department also will not move forward with lease sales 259 and 261 in the Gulf of Mexico region, as a result of delays due to factors including conflicting court rulings that impacted work on these proposed lease sales," the statement continued.
"There are 10.9 million acres of offshore federal waters already under lease to industry," and "of those, the industry is not producing on more than three-quarters (75.7% or 8.26 million acres)," the statement said.
The decision likely means the Biden administration will not hold a lease sale for offshore drilling this year and comes as the Interior Dept. appears set to let a mandatory five-year plan for offshore drilling plan expire next month.
"Unfortunately, this is becoming a pattern — the administration talks about the need for more supply and acts to restrict it,'' said Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of the American Petroleum Institute, the top lobbying group for the oil and gas industry.
"As geopolitical volatility and global energy prices continue to rise, we again urge the administration to end the uncertainty and immediately act on a new five-year program for federal offshore leasing,'' he said.
The lease cancellations come as gas prices surged to a record $4.41 a gallon Thursday, according to AAA.com.
And inflation remains out of control with consumer prices jumping 8.3% last month from a year ago, the government said Wednesday.
Social Media Users React
Reaction to the administration's announcement on social media was swift as users noted their outrage over the decision.
Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee tweeted, "As gas prices hit an all-time high in the USA, @POTUS cancelled a vital round of oil and gas lease sales this morning. High gas prices are preventable. Democrats are putting woke politics ahead of American families."
As gas prices hit an all-time high in the USA, @POTUS cancelled a vital round of oil and gas lease sales this morning. High gas prices are preventable. Democrats are putting woke politics ahead of American families.https://t.co/eBKUg0URWk
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) May 12, 2022
Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy tweeted, "Pres. Biden has killed more energy lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. He's killing jobs, has killed America's energy independence, and is fueling inflation that is killing Louisiana families. And he's doing it on purpose."
One user tweeted, "The news just broke that the Biden administration has canceled oil and gas lease sales in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico... it is now 100% obvious that they are intentionally trying to destroy this country."
The news just broke that the Biden administration has canceled oil and gas lease sales in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico... it is now 100% obvious that they are intentionally trying to destroy this country.
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) May 12, 2022
Another user wrote, "Morning America: Joe Biden canceled massive new oil and gas leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico yesterday that would have lowered energy costs in America - Not Vladimir Putin or Ultra MAGA."
Morning America: Joe Biden canceled massive new oil and gas leases in Alaska and the Golf of Mexico yesterday that would have lowered energy costs in America
Not Vladimir Putin or Ultra MAGA
— Vince Langman (@LangmanVince) May 12, 2022
Biden has come under pressure to increase U.S. crude production as fuel prices continue to rise to new heights.
Oil companies have been reluctant to ramp up production, saying there are not enough workers, scant money for new drilling investments, and wariness that today's high prices won't last.
Democrats accuse the industry of "price gouging" and have vowed to bring legislation cracking down on price manipulation to votes in the House and Senate.
A new CNN poll spells out Biden's troubles with pocketbook issues. The poll finds the public's view of the nation's economy is the worst in a decade and that a majority of U.S. adults say the president's policies have hurt it. Eight in 10 say the government is not doing enough to combat inflation.
Top Democrats and Republicans are both saying privately that the economy could be the number one issue for voters in November's mid-term elections.