Oil company executives clapped back at White House press secretary Jen Psaki over a comment she made about firms sitting on thousands of oil leases and suggesting they could be doing more to produce oil to bring down prices.
Fox News asked Psaki Monday why President Biden won’t resume new oil and gas leases on federal lands.
Psaki replied that the United States is already producing oil “at record numbers” and said “there are 9,000 approved drilling permits that are not being used.”
“So, the suggestion that we are not allowing companies to drill is inaccurate,” she added. “I would suggest you ask the oil companies why they’re not using those if there’s a desire to drill more.”
But, representatives at the CERAWeek energy conference sponsored by S&P Global Monday said the answer is not nearly as simple as Psaki hinted.
“That accusation is a complete red herring,” American Exploration & Production Council (AXPC) CEO Anne Bradbury told FOX Business.
“It’s really a distraction from the fact that this administration has paused leasing on federal lands, something that we’re concerned about and something that we think needs to continue right away,” Bradbury added.
She also said the Biden administration is “required under the law” to sell oil and gas leases on federal lands.
“The fact is that industry is producing at a higher level on existing leases on federal lands than in the last 20 years and these leases take many years to explore, to develop and produce on,” Bradbury noted.
“This represents a fundamental misunderstanding as to how this process works,” American Petroleum Institute (API) president and CEO Mike Sommers told FOX Business.
“Once you lease land there is a whole process that you have to go through. First, you have to actually discover whether actually there is oil and gas in that land. Second of all, you have to get a permit to actually develop that land,” he continued.
He added: “Right now we actually are developing more leases than we have in two decades so the White House certainly doesn’t have their facts straight on this.”
Energy Workforce and Technology Council CEO Leslie Beyer similarly noted that “some permits are viable and some are not” as an explanation why some are not being used.
She also noted that Biden’s federal leasing moratorium is not helping the situation at all.
“The moratorium on leasing certainly adds an additional… block to American energy production, so that is the opposite of what we need to be doing right now,” she said.
“We need to stop the rhetoric that’s anti-fossil fuel and we need some clarity just in the regulatory sense that this administration is behind domestic energy production,” she added.