Haaland said a public comment period would be held following the release of the proposed program but declined to offer a date for when the plan would reach final approval. Unsurprisingly, Republicans (and Joe Manchin) weren’t thrilled over the prospect of a not-so-seamless transition between five-year plans. Manchin said he was supportive of an initial pause to re-evaluate things but said “the time for a pause has come and gone,” and criticized the Biden administration’s reluctance to basically do his and other pollution-loving lawmakers’ bidding.
“Leasing is part of the cycle of development,” Manchin said. “Announcements that new leasing isn’t in line with the president’s policy while taking concrete steps to block or severely limit new leasing have a chilling effect. And yes, new lease sales would not immediately increase production but the administration’s short-sighted approach that only focuses on current production puts America’s energy security at risk.” He claimed continuing to tap fossil fuel sources isn’t all bad since we’re producing cleaner energy than, say, Russia or Iran. But emissions are still emissions and it’s not like carrying on with oil and gas is a stellar long-term plan in the face of an ever-worsening climate crisis.
Renewable energy advocates and organizations focused on combatting climate change praised Haaland, with League of Conservation Voters Program Director Alex Taurel applauding the Interior Department’s “deliberative and thoughtful approach to the forthcoming five year offshore drilling plan.” “Offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business that threatens coastal communities, economies and marine life, which is why implementing solutions now to allow for a future powered by clean energy must be the way forward,” Taurel said in a press release. “We look forward to the release of the next draft of DOI’s 5-year plan for offshore drilling and are counting on this administration to finalize a plan that schedules no new lease sales.”