Emails show Interior brass dismay over Biden oil move

Emails show Interior brass dismay over Biden oil move

  • October 24, 2023

Heather Richards, E&E News

Top Interior Department officials sympathized with Democrats “disappointed” in the Biden administration’s decision to revive oil and gas leasing on public lands in 2021, according to internal emails.

Bureau of Land Management senior official Nada Culver and several others expressed agreement with a top House Democrat’s opposition to new oil sales before Interior had completed a review of the nation’s oil program and potentially instituted reforms.

The emails, obtained in a public records request, shine fresh light on how Interior’s officials felt behind the scenes as the future of the nation’s oil and gas program played out in the public eye.

Sparking lasting tension with GOP lawmakers and the oil industry, President Joe Biden instituted a moratorium on new oil and gas lease sales on his first week in office. That pause was meant to be in place until Interior completed a review of the oil program that considered its return to American taxpayers and its climate impacts.

Michael Chamberlain, a former Trump campaign official and director of the conservative watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust, which obtained the emails, said they showcase the administration’s inappropriate “hostility” to fossil fuel development behind closed doors.

“I’m not sure most members of the American public realize that the officials in charge of overseeing oil and gas leasing on federal lands oppose oil and gas leasing on federal lands,” he said in an email.

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