Manchin Raises Concerns With Biden Administration’s Approach To Federal Oil And Gas Leasing Program

Manchin: We’ve got to send a clear signal to the world that the United States can provide for itself and our allies

May 19, 2022

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about the Biden Administration’s budget request for the U.S. Department of the Interior for Fiscal Year 2023. Throughout the hearing, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, urged the Administration to rethink its approach to energy policy to protect America’s energy and national security. The Chairman also expressed his concerns about the Administration’s failure to issue new federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leases.

“Secretary Haaland, the bottom line is that you have the ability to make some of the changes we’ve recommended [to the federal oil and gas leasing program]. There are practical changes that should’ve been made by now. You don’t need us. You can look at [the program] and review it, and if we think you’re out of bounds we’ll pull you back in. But basically, there needs to be an adjustment to the leasing program. The private sector understands it. All the leases they’re holding, they shouldn’t be holding but they will with as cheap as they are,” said Chairman Manchin.

Chairman Manchin also criticized the Administration’s failure to announce a new 5-Year federal offshore leasing program in a timely manner.

“[A timely announcement] would’ve sent a clear signal that you’re looking at what’s going to ensure that we can continue to provide for ourselves in America, including with the cleanest energy coming from the Gulf. But we’re getting this at the last possible minute, knowing that there’s other steps to go through. This gives us no security and the timing is not right. [The Department took] as long as it possibly could,” Chairman Manchin said. “We understand that we’re in challenging times right now but we’ve got to send a clear signal that we can take care of ourselves in the United States.”

Finally, Chairman Manchin questioned Secretary Haaland on the need to improve the methane permitting process to reduce venting and flaring on federal lands.

“Has the Department taken any steps to reduce venting and flaring on our public lands by expediting the process of getting a pipeline to take dangerous and harmful methane off and into the market?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“[I understand that] we need to reduce methane waste, and it causes a lot of health problems as well. We are continuing to issue permits for gathering lines. Congress has provided us additional authority in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and we will move that forward as we can. I appreciate this being a priority,” said Secretary Haaland.

To read Secretary Haaland’s testimony, please click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.