Last week, the Biden administration told the DC Circuit Court of Appeals that the court should not try to rush the Department of Interior into preparing a new offshore leasing plan. There are just so many procedural things they need to do, they told the court. But this procedural process is not new, and all previous administrations have begun the process well before the previous leasing plan expired. The Biden administration, on the other hand, did not release their proposed offshore leasing plan until July of 2022, after the previous plan had ended at the end of June. The administration asserts that their unprecedented delay now justifies even further delays. The longest previous lapse between offshore leasing plans was a mere 2 months in 2012 under the Obama administration. On the current administration’s proposed timetable, an offshore leasing plan will not be finalized until December, fully 18 months after the end of the previous plan. President Biden has spent the last two years in speech after speech complaining about high gas prices and demanding that energy companies produce more. Maybe he should give that speech to his own subordinates.
Interstate natural gas pipeline capacity additions reached the lowest level in 2022 since the Energy Information Administration began tracking in 1995. Only five projects were completed in 2022 adding capacity that was just 3% of the level added in 2017, the record year for capacity additions. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission deserves some hard questions about this shortfall. U.S. natural gas consumption continues to rise and is projected to rise further. There is plenty more natural gas ready to be produced in places like Texas and Pennsylvania to meet that demand, provided of course that there are pipelines to move it where it is needed. And despite the hopes of environmentalists, the alternative to consumption of domestic natural gas is not no consumption of natural gas, the alternative is importing gas from overseas. Folks in New England still have to heat their homes, if it doesn’t come from Pennsylvania, it’s going to come from Russia.
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