As gas prices skyrocket, the Biden administration has been blaming oil companies for a lack of domestic production, a narrative that deflects from the administration's policies that are hostile toward fossil fuels.
But representatives for the oil industry say the Biden administration is not being honest.
What has the Biden admin said?
Amid calls for the U.S. to increase domestic oil production, the Biden administration has repeatedly accused oil companies of not using 9,000 already-approved oil leases.
"There are 9,000 approved drilling permits that are not being used," Psaki repeated on Monday. "So the suggestion that we are not allowing companies to drill is inaccurate. The suggestion that that is what is hindering or preventing gas prices to come down is inaccurate."
The claim deflects from the administration's policies hostile toward fossil fuels. Even as gas prices skyrocket to historic highs, the Biden administration is looking internationally — to Venezuela and Saudi Arabia — to supply American oil needs, instead of working to empower domestic producers.
What is the oil industry saying?
Representatives in the oil and gas industry say the Biden administration is being deceptive, citing the lengthy process required to find, acquire, and develop oil once leases are approved — if oil even exists under the land for which a specific lease is approved.
Anne Bradbury — CEO of the American Exploration & Production Council, a national trade organization that represents oil and gas companies — described Psaki's comment as a "red herring."
"That accusation is a complete red herring," Bradbury told Fox Business. "It's really a distraction from the fact that this administration has paused leasing on federal lands, something that we're concerned about and something that we think needs to continue right away. The fact is that industry is producing at a higher level on existing leases on federal lands than in the last 20 years and these leases take many years to explore, to develop and produce on."
Mike Sommers, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, told Fox Business the Biden administration's claim "represents a fundamental misunderstanding as to how this process works."
"Once you lease land there is a whole process that you have to go through. First you have to actually discover whether actually there is oil and gas in that land. Second of all, you have to get a permit to actually develop that land," Sommers said. "Right now we actually are developing more leases than we have in two decades so the White House certainly doesn't have their facts straight on this."
Energy Workforce and Technology Council CEO Leslie Beyer agreed the Biden administration's rhetoric is dishonest because not every approved lease is viable.
"The moratorium on leasing certainly adds an additional ... block to American energy production, so that is the opposite of what we need to be doing right now," Breyer told Fox Business. "We need to stop the rhetoric that's anti-fossil fuel and we need some clarity just in the regulatory sense that this administration is behind domestic energy production."
The Biden administration instituted a new pause on new oil leases on federal lands and water last month.