Tensions hit a new level this week as Congress turned its attention to oil and gas supply challenges exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Demands for domestic oil production sparked a flurry of congressional bills.
At issue is a now 15-month pause on federal land oil and gas leases, initially triggered by an executive order on Jan. 27, 2021, as the new administration reviewed climate impacts of fossil fuels from public lands. That pause segued into a legal dispute in 14 states with Republican governments, Montana included, suing over the pause.
“There were leases the Trump administration had all prepared and ready to go for first quarter 2021, and the Biden administration came in and put a halt to it,” said Kathleen Sgamma, Western Energy Alliance president. “There has not been a lease sale in Montana for all of 2021 and now there won’t be one for the first quarter of 2022.”
On Thursday, a Fox News White House correspondent, noting the President had "talked about increasing domestic manufacturing to bring down prices on inflated items," asked the Press Secretary "so why not apply the same logic to energy and increase domestic production here?" Jen Psaki replied “Well, there are 9,000 approved oil leases that the oil companies are not tapping into currently. So I would ask them that question,”
One reporter raised the same issue on Friday after he spoke to the American Petroleum Institute and Psaki responded
The fact is that onshore alone at the start of this year the industry had more than 9,000 unused permits to drill in the United States.... and of the more than 37 million acres under lease offshore nd onshore to the oil and gas industry, nearly 60% are currently non-producing...
Overall, what we need to do here is reduce our dependence on oil. Europeans are doing that, we're doing that, and what I think we're all going through now is this discussion of banning oil imports and the volatility in the global market- oil markets- is a reminder of that. So there's no shortage of drilling leases than can be used domestically to enhance production in this moment. The oil and gas industry is literally sitting on stockpile leases and permits.
That's good journalism when the media confronts a spokesperson for the President about a crucial issue and then follows up on it at the next available opportunity.
Though informed and prepared, Jen Psaki on this answer alone should not turn Chris Meloni's "perhaps" to "undoubtedly." But surely she's in the running.
Perhaps the greatest WH spokesperson I’ve ever witnessed https://t.co/J7mYraOg1n— Chris Meloni (@Chris_Meloni) March 4, 2022