Since January 2021, the Biden administration has enacted net-zero energy policies to phase out oil and gas development in an effort to boost so-called renewable energy sources. 

Last year, Biden claimed that 9,000 oil and gas leases are simply unused. But is this claim true? New information has come to light.

“In the United States, 90 percent of onshore oil production takes place on land that isn’t owned by the federal government. And of the remaining 10 percent that occurs on federal land, the oil and gas industry has millions of acres leased. They have 9,000 permits to drill now. They could be drilling right now, yesterday, last week, last year. They have 9,000 to drill onshore that are already approved.”
President Joe Biden, March 2022

False. Completely make believe.

The actual number of approved permits—which differ from leases—is closer to 6,700. The BLM blamed the technical error on the Trump administration. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency responsible for approving energy projects on public lands, severely overcounted the number of applications for permits to drill (APDs) it approved. Originally, the White House claimed 9,173 APDs were approved but were going unused by oil and gas companies. APDs must be obtained by “a leaseholder, operator, or designated agent” before exploring a potential oil and gas deposit on a federal land lease. 

Our previous fact check on the subject determined the administration lied about who is responsible for unused leases. 

“As of February 2023, companies have over 6,600 approved and unused drilling permits available on federal lands,” the BLM told Fox News Digital. “This number has been updated to account for a reporting discrepancy resulting from a transition to a new database in mid-2020.”

According to the most available data on APDs for Fiscal Year 2022, there’s a 71% lease utilization rate—down from 76% lease utilization in FY2021.

The Biden administration continues to double down on discouraging oil and gas exploration in the U.S. It recently signaled its intent to stop the proposed Willow Project in Alaska—the largest project pending—despite support from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers and stakeholders.

Despite prioritizing “climate-first” policies, Biden conceded in his State of the Union address last month that “We’re still going to need oil and gas for a while.” He added that reliance on traditional energy sources will extend for at least 10 more years. 

President Biden’s continued attack on the oil and gas industry is dangerous and expensive for the American people. Instead of spreading misinformation, the Biden administration should work to support and encourage our domestic energy sector and secure affordable and reliable energy.

To learn more about oil and gas permitting, read our past fact check HERE.