Despite record-high gas prices and President Joe Biden having to ask other countries to bolster oil production, the administration canceled three oil and gas leases Thursday, drawing a direct rebuke from former President Donald Trump.
"Not even believable that Joe Biden just canceled a major Alaska oil lease where not only big dollars would be made by the United States (instead of another country) but also massive amounts of oil would be produced when gasoline is at the highest price ever," Trump posted Thursday afternoon on his Truth Social account.
Trump has returned to regularly postings on his social media platform, which is just weeks away from releasing an internet version. Truth Social is only available in the Apple store for Apple devices thus far.
Trump has long hailed his administration's work to make America energy independent, while denouncing Biden's policies and predicting they would lead to supply shortages and massive cost increases.
Biden has attacked Trump as "the MAGA king," doubled down on his energy policies, and pointed blame on rising costs and low supply to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Republicans note gas prices were rising long before Putin's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine began.
The Interior Department announced the decision of canceling three oil and gas leases Wednesday night, citing a lack of industry interest in drilling off the Alaska coast and "conflicting court rulings" that have complicated drilling efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, where the bulk of U.S. offshore drilling takes place.
The decision likely means the Biden administration will not hold a lease sale for offshore drilling this year and comes as Interior appears set to let a mandatory five-year plan for offshore drilling expire next month.
"Unfortunately, this is becoming a pattern — the administration talks about the need for more supply and acts to restrict it,'' said Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of the American Petroleum Institute, the top lobbying group for the oil and gas industry.
"As geopolitical volatility and global energy prices continue to rise, we again urge the administration to end the uncertainty and immediately act on a new five-year program for federal offshore leasing,'' he said.
The lease cancellations come as gas prices have surged to a record $4.40 a gallon amid the war in Ukraine and other disruptions that have pushed prices $1.40 a gallon higher than a year ago. Consumer prices jumped 8.3% last month from a year ago, the government said Wednesday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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