Manchin, Committee Question Secretary Haaland on Interior’s FY25 Request and Administration’s Throttling of Energy Production on Federal Lands

May 2, 2024

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. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) held a hearing to question U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland about the President’s budget request for the DOI for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25). During the hearing, Chairman Manchin discussed DOI’s expected loss in revenue due to plans to cut back on oil and gas lease sales, DOI’s lack of progress on finalizing a rule for offshore carbon capture sequestration and DOI’s efforts to restrict energy development and other activities on federal lands.

“It’s been a year to the day since you were last before the Committee for the FY 2024 budget hearing. There have been some highs – from renewing the Compacts of Free Association, which we finally accomplished as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in March – to achieving record level energy production,” said Chairman Manchin during his opening remarks. 

“But with that, there have unfortunately been too many lows, as well, with the Interior Department and broader Administration picking favorites when it comes to energy, leading to many instances where U.S. investment has been discouraged. Getting this administration to celebrate the abundant resources our country has been blessed with – whether that be oil, gas, coal, or minerals – that we can produce cleaner and safer than anywhere else in the world, and that we and our friends around the world rely on, should be easy. But the radical climate advisors in the White House have put election year politics ahead of a thoughtful and achievable long-term strategy for the country,” continued Chairman Manchin.

Chairman Manchin asked Secretary Haaland how DOI justifies a 5%, or $935 million, budget increase while anticipating a $700 million decrease in revenue due to DOI holding less oil and gas lease sales and discouraging production.

“I also see your proposed budget expects Interior will collect nearly $700 million less in bonuses, rents, and royalties because you chose to have less lease sales and to discourage production on public lands and waters. It’s kind of hard to justify to the taxpayers why we should be using tax dollars to increase the budget for the DOI $935 million when you have the ability to collect this and be self-sustaining. I’d like to hear your concerns about that,” said Chairman Manchin.

“The Fiscal Year 2024 estimate was recently updated and increased $3.3 billion from last year’s projection. Both the Fiscal Year 2025 and Fiscal Year 2024 estimates reflect an overall upward revenue trend and differences between 2025 and 2024 reflect lower OMB [Office of Management and Budget] price assumptions for oil and gas and lower offshore bonus amounts for 2025,” said Secretary Haaland.

“You all have to agree that having less lease sales is going to affect that greatly. I mean we have to acknowledge that, it’s just common sense,” said Chairman Manchin.

Chairman Manchin asked Secretary Haaland about delayed offshore carbon capture and sequestration regulations that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law required the DOI to issue by November 2022.

“You missed that deadline [November 2022] and continue to delay each year. All of the science tells us we cannot meet our climate goals without carbon sequestration. And given the Administration’s focus on decarbonization, this initiative should be a top priority, yet a draft rule has not even been published yet. When do you think you will publish a proposed rule for comment since we’re two years behind already?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“We don’t have an actual estimated time for this to be completed, but I want to assure you that we are working on it,” said Secretary Haaland.

“How much CO2 has been left unsequestered [due to the delay]?” questioned Chairman Manchin.

“I couldn’t answer that at the moment,” replied Secretary Haaland.

Chairman Manchin asked Secretary Haaland about a final rule published last month by the Bureau of Land Management that: authorizes BLM to grant ‘restoration’ and ‘mitigation’ leases to third parties; restricts development in potentially-environmentally sensitive areas on public lands; and allows BLM to waive fair market value if the leases “would further other policy priorities” identified by BLM.  

“Grazing, mining, and non-renewable, and renewable energy stakeholders all opposed the Proposed Rule. How much public land do you expect to restrict from development under this new rule?” asked Chairman Manchin. 

“I couldn’t tell you the specific amount of acreage, but I can tell you that fair market value will apply to the mitigation and restoration leases that we’re moving forward,” said Secretary Haaland.

“How much public land do you expect you will lease without charging fair market value?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“We’ll take those questions back and consult with you,” said Secretary Haaland.”

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.