According to two officials familiar with the situation, the US Interior Department has suggested to the White House that all federal offshore oil and gas drilling auctions for the next five years be held in the Gulf of Mexico, where the drilling industry has already been centered for decades.

The recommendation to exclude all other waters from offshore oil and gas development comes as US President Joe Biden tries to strike a balance between his goal of transitioning the country away from fossil fuels and a Congressional requirement to hold regular drilling auctions, as well as intense political pressure to boost energy supplies to combat soaring inflation.

The Biden administration is required by Congress to reveal its planned five-year offshore development plan on Thursday. It’s unclear if the plan would follow the Interior Department’s advice to concentrate primarily on the Gulf, or whether the White House altered revisions to include other areas.

The Interior Department has leased sites off the coast of Alaska in recent years. And former President Donald Trump suggested expanding drilling sales to encompass more than 90 percent of coastal seas, including regions off California that had not been offered since the 1980s, as well as new zones in the Atlantic and Arctic. Legal issues thwarted their intentions.

Source: Reuters

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