White House press secretary Jen Psaki mocked a question about regulatory and permitting roadblocks preventing immediate oil drilling Wednesday.
“What additional permits do they need? The leases are there, the permits are there,” Psaki said during the daily White House briefing. “I don’t think they need an embroidered invitation to drill.”
Psaki also reiterated an argument that fossil fuel companies are purposely neglecting to drill on roughly 9,000 public leases. Industry groups have accused the White House of misleading the public on leases, arguing that not all leases contain oil or natural gas, drilling requires sizable private investment and further permitting is required before a company can begin extracting resources from the ground.
The groups have also pointed to the fact that the vast majority of leases are being used. There are more than 37,496 active oil and gas leases nationwide, meaning more than 75% are in use, according to the latest Bureau of Land Management data.
“The federal permit to drill is not the only government approval required. Rights of way (ROW) must be acquired to access the lease and for natural gas gathering systems,” Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma wrote in a blog last week. “ROWs can take years to acquire. With the pressure not to flare from regulators and investors, most companies cannot drill before the gathering lines are in place.”
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources, for example, lists a dozen permits and requirements companies must obtain before drilling on a lease on its website.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has implemented new regulatory hurdles for domestic fossil fuel production over the last 14 months. The White House has also signaled it won’t renew the five-year off-shore lease program that is crucial for domestic energy production and ensuring continued drilling in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico, The Washington Post reported.
In 2021, companies produced more than 1.7 million barrels of oil per day in the Gulf of Mexico, according to government data. But the most recent lease secured by a company in the Gulf occurred during the Trump administration.