Manchin grills Biden admin on energy during budget hearing

Manchin's comments come as gas prices continue to soar
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Joe Manchin confronted by activists outside Capitol
Joe Manchin confronted by activists outside Capitol
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During testimony from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Thursday, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., chastised the Biden administration's energy policy.

The West Virginia Senator focused on Washington's references to the 9,000 unused oil and gas leases in the country, insisting that the federal government could spur them into use, according to the Hill.

"[I]f the concern is that too many leases are not being developed in a timely manner, the department could increase the rental rates over time to provide a financial disincentive against holding leases for speculation alone," Manchin said, asserting that the current policy “puts America’s energy security at risk.”

Manchin's comments at the hearing come as gas prices continue to soar, hitting an all time average high of $4.52 per gallon on Tuesday. The Biden administration meanwhile has worked to counter the rising costs by releasing fuel from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The West Viriginia Democrat asserted that “new lease sales would not immediately increase production," the Hill noted.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced in April that it would open 144,000 acres of federal land to new oil and gas leases amid rising energy costs due in part to sanctions and market disruptions from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Haaland, for her part, blamed the Trump administration for shortcomings in American energy policy. “The previous Administration stopped work on the new five-year plan in 2018, so there has been a lot to do to catch up. Varying, conflicting litigation has also been a factor,” she said, per the Hill.