Ranking Member Cruz Joins Amicus Brief to Protect Energy Production in U.S. Gulf of Mexico

September 20, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Last week, Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on an amicus brief in a case concerning the Biden administration’s decision to alter the terms of “Lease Sale 261,” an oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico required by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and set to take place on September, 27, 2023. The members of Congress assert that the administration’s actions undermine the faithful execution of laws enacted by the legislative branch.


“The Biden administration’s reckless and dangerous assault on American energy production continues to weaken our energy security, raise prices for families, reduce jobs, and harm our allies,” Cruz said. “The Gulf of Mexico is a critical source of domestic energy production, and it is deeply concerning that the administration has tried to avoid a Congressional mandate by entering into a closed-door settlement agreement to remove six million acres from future production and impose severe vessel restrictions. I stand firmly with my colleagues in Congress who are committed to economic growth and the rule of law. We must reverse these America-last policies and ensure that the U.S. remains the global energy leader.”


President Biden is crushing American energy every way he can,” Barrasso said”He is inventing new and destructive ways to target oil and natural gas in our country. The Gulf of Mexico alone is responsible for 15 percent of total U.S. crude oil production. President Biden is strangling American energy in this region of the country with bureaucratic red tape. The Democrats’ mission to cut off American energy production will send energy prices even higher. President Biden is yet again prioritizing liberal extremism over affordable and reliable American energy.”


“Of all the oil and gas used in the United States, that produced in the Gulf of Mexico has the lowest emissions,” said Dr. Cassidy. “In times of high inflation, we need to keep gas prices down so families can stretch their dollar further.”


“The Biden administration tries to talk a good game about domestic energy production, but the details tell a different story.  The limitations placed on Lease Sale 261 again show us the depth of the administration’s hostility toward U.S. oil and gas production.  Specifically, it is going out of its way to make production as difficult and unpalatable as possible for producers,” Hyde-Smith said.  ”I hope the District Court will determine the BOEM must follow the letter of the law, as passed by Congress.”


Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), were joined by Congressmen Garret Graves (R-La.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Jerry Carl (R-Ala.), August Pfluger (R-Texas), and Wesley Hunt (R-Texas). The amicus brief was led by House Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Senate Energy and Environment Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).


Background Information:


The Biden administration recently entered into a closed-door de facto settlement agreement with the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Turtle Island Restoration Network. As part of that agreement, the administration is now voluntarily removing six million acres in the Gulf of Mexico from Lease Sale 261 as well as imposing a 10-knot speed limit and restricting nighttime transit for certain oil and gas vessels, significantly disrupting companies’ ability to drill and produce oil and gas. The decision would effectively raise costs and deter oil and gas companies from being able to explore for and develop their resources properly and efficiently in the Gulf of Mexico.


The agreement is based on the idea that oil and gas vessel traffic in the central and western Gulf of Mexico could disturb the habitat of the Rice’s whale. Previous analysis performed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stated that additional mitigations for the Rice’s whale were not warranted and federal statutes and regulations require much more evidence and opportunity for public comment before such a sweeping decision is implemented. Further, these restrictions will only apply to oil and natural gas vessels, which make up a small portion of the overall vessel traffic in the area.


The restrictions imposed by the settlement agreement would result in reduced bidding in the next offshore lease sale, reduced revenue to Gulf of Mexico states, reduced investment, fewer jobs, and ultimately higher prices for all Americans. Fifteen percent of the country’s crude oil is produced from the Gulf of Mexico, which will be stifled due to the Biden administration’s actions.


To read the full amicus brief, click here.