July 19, 2023

Cassidy Leads Senate Push to Hold Offshore Lease Sales in the Gulf of Mexico in 2024, 2025

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced the Offshore Energy Security Act of 2023. The legislation requires the Department of the Interior (DOI) to hold two offshore oil and gas lease sales in 2024 and 2025. 

“The Biden administration has been slow-walking offshore leases since day one. This helps OPEC+ and puts a smile on Vladimir Putin and Nicholas Maduro’s faces,” said Dr. Cassidy. “What the administration is doing is against the law and increases oil prices to the delight of foreign dictators. We’re working to stop them.”

“I am continuing the fight for more jobs for Texas, greater economic security, and to combat the rising costs of energy caused by the Biden Administration. The Offshore Energy Security Act does that, and I’m proud to stand with Sen. Cassidy in restoring sanity and predictability for energy production in the U.S. and especially across the Lone Star State,” said Senator Cruz.

Despite a legal obligation to maintain an offshore leasing program, the Biden administration has delayed the finalization of the 5-Year Plan for offshore oil and gas. In doing so, they have publicly acknowledged the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will not start any sale-specific environmental review—which can take up to two years—until the new 5-Year Plan is finalized in December 2023. That means the earliest an offshore oil and gas lease sale is likely to occur is some time in 2026.  

In addition to mandating these sales, the bill also defines acreage, stipulates lease terms and conditions, defines which previously finalized environmental reviews will apply to the sales, and ensures that both issued leases and drilling permit applications are not either invalidated, remanded, or delayed as a result of civil litigation.

The Offshore Energy Security Act of 2023:

  • Mandates two offshore oil and gas lease sales in 2024 and two sales in 2025;
  • Provides certainty to offshore energy producers to continue investing in the United States; and
  • Preserves the value of the 5-year offshore leasing program.

The legislation is supported by the National Ocean Industries Association, American Petroleum Institute, Gulf Energy Alliance, Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association (LMOGA), and Consumer Energy Alliance.  

“NOIA thanks Senator Cassidy for his efforts to offer effective energy solutions in Congress. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico plays a vital role as a source of affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible energy, and its status as a premier energy region is crucial for the overall well-being of our nation. Notably, a growing body of research underscores that U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil production boasts significantly lower emissions compared to most other regions worldwide. Supporting offshore energy, particularly in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, represents a pathway towards sustained American success and should remain a key priority for Congress,” said National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito. “Moreover, the ongoing and unnecessary gap in the leasing program is needlessly eroding long-term certainty in the Gulf of Mexico. The uncertainty surrounding the region poses a threat to the energy, economic, and environmental benefits that the Gulf has provided to our nation for decades. The Offshore Energy Security Act will effectively address this issue by injecting much-needed certainty and predictability into U.S. energy production. It will facilitate continued opportunities for investment and job creation in the offshore sector and allow the region to remain a dependable low carbon hub of energy production.” 

“Maintaining a strong offshore leasing program is critical for advancing U.S. energy security and conservation, strengthening our economy and ensuring producers can continue to provide the reliable energy that our country needs. While the Department of the Interior has failed to uphold their responsibility to hold regular offshore lease sales, the Offshore Energy Security Act helps to restore certainty and clarity needed to invest in American energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf. We thank Senator Cassidy for his leadership on this important issue,” said API Vice President of Upstream Policy Holly Hopkins. 

“The Gulf Energy Alliance applauds Senator Cassidy for introducing the Support the Offshore Energy Security Act of 2023 (the Act). The offshore oil and gas industry depends on regular and predictable federal lease sales to continue to produce domestic oil and gas through the hardworking men and women throughout the Gulf Coast. A consistent schedule of lease sales is the lifeblood of the offshore industry. Since President Biden’s inauguration, the offshore industry has suffered through canceled lease sales and a punitive regulatory environment. Senator Cassidy’s bill would provide the certainty this industry urgently needs,” said Gulf Energy Alliance Executive Director Kevin Bruce.

“Offshore energy has experienced unprecedented uncertainty under the Biden Administration’s pause on leasing; and the lease sales that have been promulgated under the Inflation Reduction Act have been met with court challenges and terms and conditions that further obstruct responsible and sustainable energy production from the Gulf of Mexico. Our country needs a predictable, robust 5 year offshore leasing program; and, with the minimal pre-leasing activity that has gone on at the Department of the Interior, the Offshore Energy Security Act will ensure our nation meets its energy needs and satisfies the intent of Congress under the IRA with meaningful lease sales that yield some of the lowest carbon per barrel of energy in the world. We thank Senator Cassidy for taking this step, at this time, to continue to show support for a meaningful, robust offshore leasing program,” said LMOGA President Tommy Faucheux.

“This bill will help families and small businesses by removing the uncertainty in the Gulf of Mexico federal leasing program caused by years of intentional delays. It will send a strong market signal for companies to keep investing in what is one of the least carbon-intensive production areas in the world,” said CEA Vice President Kaitlin Hammons. “The Biden Administration has spent its entire term tying up the lease sale process in a knot of legal and bureaucratic delays, while looking for oil and gas from other nations and limiting options for American workers in the Gulf. Congress is right to step in on behalf of American workers, families and small businesses to ensure we can keep energy prices down and energy security strong.”