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Administration cancels massive Cook Inlet oil and gas lease option in Alaska

Administration cancels massive Cook Inlet oil and gas lease option in Alaska
President Joe Biden departs the White House on Wednesday for events in Illinois. His administration canceled gas and lease options in the Cook Inlet of Alaska Wednesday. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

May 12 (UPI) -- The Department of the Interior said late Wednesday that the Biden administration has canceled oil and gas lease opportunities in Alaska's Cook Inlet.

The department said it made the decision because of a "lack of industry interest in leasing in the area." It also ended consideration for two Gulf of Mexico leases as well.

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The massive Cook Inset deal would have covered more than 1 million acres of federal land. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management cited lack of interest as well in canceling lease sales in the area in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

President Joe Biden has long been cool to expanding oil and gas drilling, despite of the current gasoline prices. Environmental groups cheered the move by the White House.

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"Big oil is using anything they can find to try to extend the life of a dying fossil fuel industry. They are lying when they say they need more leases," Diane Hoskins, of the environmental group Oceana, told the Washington Post. "We cannot drill our way out of high gas prices, and it would take years or decades for any new leases to begin producing."

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Oil and gas industry advocates questioned the move with skyrocketing gasoline prices and the banning of imported oil from Russia during that country's invasion of Ukraine.

"The president has spoken about the need for additional supplies in the market, but his administration has failed to take action to match that rhetoric," Frank Macchairola, an official with the American Petroleum Institute, told CBS News.

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"In the kind of price environment that we're seeing, there are negative consequences to shutting off oil and gas development, both politically and practically."

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