Energy & Environment

Manchin presses Interior nominee on leasing program review

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) leaves the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
Greg Nash

President Biden’s nominee for a top Interior Department position confirmed Tuesday that the department will publish its review of the federal oil and gas leasing program in the short term, but said it must first undergo interagency review.

At a nomination hearing Tuesday, Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) questioned Laura Daniel-Davis on the status of the report, which the administration had projected for an early summer release.

Daniel-Davis, Biden’s nominee for assistant Interior secretary for lands and minerals management, said the report is undergoing the full interagency review process.

“Reports like this that come at the direction of an executive order do go through an appropriate interagency and White House review process, so that is where we are,” she told Manchin.

Daniel-Davis did not identify a specific timeline for the release of the report but told Manchin, “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get it out the door very soon.”

“We really want to see that, it’d be very helpful for all of us,” Manchin responded, noting the original target of summer for the report’s release.

The Biden administration imposed a moratorium on leasing for all oil and gas drilling on federal lands in January, but a federal court in June imposed a temporary injunction on the order. The administration has appealed the ruling, but Daniel-Davis confirmed the leasing program is “going forward as per the court’s direction” in the meantime.

Manchin similarly grilled Interior Secretary Deb Haaland about the status of the leasing program in July, noting in a hearing on the department’s budget request that it was “now into the early summer timeline when we were told the review would be completed.”

Haaland responded with nearly identical language, telling Manchin: “The review is being finalized internally and should be out very soon.” The Interior secretary also did not establish a specific timeline in response to Manchin’s questioning.

Tags Deb Haaland Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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