Biden Blocks Energy Project Despite Support From Local Indigenous Leaders

Despite Biden saying he is doing all he can to increase domestic oil production, his numerous actions beginning on his first day in office show the opposite. Clearly, his climate/tax bill (the so-called Inflation Reduction Act) hits the domestic oil industry in the back with massive fees and royalty increases. Even production on non-federal lands gets hit with a methane tax of up to $1500 per ton.

His latest move is to finalize a rule banning oil and gas leasing near a Native American historical site despite heavy opposition from local Indigenous leaders, who indicate that the administration’s rule would prevent them from collecting royalties on their own land. The rule, which the Department of Interior announced in November 2021, would implement a 20-year moratorium on federal oil and gas leasing within a 10-mile radius of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park located in northwest New Mexico. The rule withdraws 336,000 acres of public lands from mineral leasing.

While the administration stated the rule would not impact Indian-owned allotments, blocking federal land leasing would ultimately block development on non-federal land. The rule would have a devastating impact because the indirect effects would make the allottees’ land worthless from the standpoint of energy extraction and the jobs and economic development it might produce. Due to the cross-jurisdictional land status in Navajo Eastern Agency, a proposed horizontal lateral may need to cross federal land. The Navajo Nation Council condemned the proposal, indicating it would instead support a five-mile radius, a compromise backed by industry, but ignored by the Biden Administration.


Gasoline prices are inching up as the Biden administration continues its attempts to bail its political prospects out by selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an emergency reserve that has been depleted to 1984 levels. The sales will now continue to be delivered through November, attempting to keep gas prices down through Election Day on November 8. While Biden adds to the global oil supply with the SPR sale, OPEC+ oil output is falling from its production target by a record amount and Biden continues to remove federal land from oil and gas production, even lands owned by Native Americans who are not in agreement with his policy. The end result will eventually be higher gasoline and diesel prices as some forecasters are predicting. And with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve depleted to meet Biden’s election goals, the United States is much less energy secure in an increasingly unstable world. The American public should not be fooled.

*This article was adapted from content originally published by the Institute for Energy Research.

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