The Biden administration quietly acknowledged in an April letter to oil & gas industry execs that a "miscalculation" is responsible for a massive backlog in offshore drilling permits.
According to the April 29 letter from the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Richard Spinrad, a subagency "discovered a miscalculation" that's responsible for the massive backlog, the Daily Caller reports.
Who's to blame? The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) – which is responsible for analyzing the impact of offshore drilling projects on wildlife – used faulty modeling which overestimated the effects on wildlife.
"NMFS understands the concerns of industry and is working with [the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)] to expeditiously develop … revised regulations," wrote Spinrad.
The NOAA administrator’s letter came in response to an April 5 letter from NOIA, the American Petroleum Institute and the EnerGeo Alliance, warning that energy producers had experienced significant permitting delays. In particular, oil and gas companies have reported delays in obtaining letters of authorization (LOA) from the NMFS to conduct pre-drilling activity, including seismic surveying and geological exploration, in the Gulf of Mexico. -Daily Caller
The faulty modeling was used by the Biden administration via an April 2021 regulation according to the industry groups.
According to the Department of Commerce, which oversees both NOAA and NMFS, the administration is "working to consider all possible solutions to expedite the rulemaking process to the greatest extent possible."
"NMFS is also engaged with affected members of industry and with industry trade associations as it considers both short-term and long-term solutions," the spokesperson told TheDCNF in an email. "The Commerce Department understands the concerns of industry and is working expeditiously to address the incorrect data it received for the initial rule and to proceed in earnest with the revised rule."
NOIA President Erik Milito told the Caller that "Gulf of Mexico seismic permitting delays — when coupled with the lack of progress on a new five-year offshore leasing program and the continuation of a multi-year gap in Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sales — undermine the predictability companies have relied on to make multi-billion-dollar investment decisions in the Gulf of Mexico," which is happening "At a time when energy issues are at the forefront, NMFS should address the problems as quickly as possible."
"Companies must be able to continue to explore for and develop hydrocarbon resources in the Gulf of Mexico."
On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and 19 other GOP Senators fired off an angry letter to the Department of Commerce expressing their concern over the permitting delays caused by the math error.
"NMFS’s permitting delays represent one example of the Administration’s de facto ban on new drilling – impeding domestic oil and gas investment, exploration, and production," reads the letter. "It is unacceptable that agency miscalculations have restricted access to safe, secure, and reliable domestic oil and gas production through substantial, unnecessary, and arbitrary permitting delays."