A California Republican offered a gentle reminder to the Obama administration not to backtrack from its plan to open the Arctic to drilling.
Rep. Devin Nunes introduced a non-binding resolution encouraging the Arctic leases just as the Obama administration begins finalizing its five-year energy plan for granting leases for offshore drilling.
“We won’t achieve energy independence by blocking development of our most promising energy resources,” Nunes said. “Canceling the Arctic lease sales would be a self-defeating action that would not have the slightest effect on global warming — it would merely surrender the development of Arctic energy to rival nations like Russia.”
Nunes said even though the proposed plan opens the Arctic to drilling on the outer continental shelf, he fears the administration will pull the leases to appease environmentalists.
He said there is precedent for that prediction, as the Obama administration had earlier said it would open drilling off the Atlantic coast, but pulled the leases when releasing its formal plan for comment.
The energy plan designates the areas off the coast where drilling can begin from 2017 to 2022 and where the federal government will sell leases to begin exploration and drilling activities.
The resolution expresses the sense of the House that Arctic lease sales, already included in the draft plan, must stay in the program.
Industry groups are submitting comments to the Interior Department expressing similar concerns as Nunes.
Environmental groups, on the other hand, are ramping up a campaign to urge the administration to remove the Arctic from the final plan and make sure the president doesn’t have second thoughts about drilling in the Atlantic.