A leaked internal memo from the Biden administration – which showed officials are prioritizing climate change over energy security – could force the White House to pull the plug on a leading candidate.
In a Nov. 25 memo, former Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton recommended that the Department of the Interior (DOI) charge energy companies a regulatory rate of 18.75%, the highest rate allowable under law, for the 958,202 acres of shoreline. oil and gas lease sales in Alaska. Lefton acknowledged in the recommendation that charging a lower rate of 16.67% would likely provide “greater energy security” but would not adequately address climate change.
“While a 16 ⅔ percent royalty may have the potential to facilitate the rapid and orderly development of OCS resources and provide greater energy security for residents of the state of Alaska, a reasonable balancing of environmental and economic factors for the American public favors the maximum. 18 ¾ percent royalty for Cook Inlet leases,” Lefton wrote in the note.
The memo was addressed to DOI Undersecretary Laura Daniel-Davis, who eventually signed the 18.75% rate recommendation into a public record of decision a day later, without mentioning the energy security analysis of the lower royalty rates. On Dec. 30, DOI held a lease sale, and received a single bid of $63,983 for the 2,304-acre parcel.
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Laura Daniel-Davis, nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Interior, testified at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s confirmation hearing on February 8, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)
But Daniel-Davis’ involvement in prioritizing the Biden administration’s environmental goals ahead of “greater energy security” could threaten his pending appointment as DOI’s assistant secretary for land and mineral management, a powerful position overseeing major oil and gas decisions. . His nomination, which has already been delayed for two years, is before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
On Friday, after the memo was leaked, committee Chairman Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said he might not allow Daniel-Davis to move forward in a potentially serious blow to his nomination.
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“The content of this memo speaks volumes: If this is what this administration truly believes and is going to make decisions about, it is unacceptable,” Manchin said in a statement Friday. “There is a clear and deliberate threat to energy security and the aforementioned energy policy has been steadily strengthened by Congress.”
“I will not tolerate anyone who agrees with this kind of flawed reasoning.”
President Biden first nominated Daniel-Davis to the position in June 2021. Since then, he has appeared in two confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but has failed two votes to advance his nomination to a floor vote. The White House announced on January 23 that it would send the nomination back to the Senate.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin, DW.Va., who is tasked with moving Daniel-Davis’ nomination, said he would not accept anyone who believes the “flawed reasoning” contained in the memo. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Republicans on the committee, on the other hand, have doubled down on their opposition to Daniel-Davis in the wake of the leaked memo last week.
“Under the leadership of Laura Daniel-Davis, (DOI) has worked overtime to stop the development of oil and natural gas in the United States on federal lands,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the panel’s ranking member, said Friday. “The entire (Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee GOP) voted against his confirmation in the last Congress. His nomination must be removed immediately.”
Committee members Republican Senators James Risch of Idaho and Steve Daines of Montana agreed that the memo was the ultimate reason to withdraw the nomination.
“I opposed the nomination of Laura Daniel-Davis in 2021 and 2022. If her nomination is not removed, as it should be, I will oppose it again in 2023,” Risch told Fox News Digital. “This report from the Home Office confirms my concerns about its flawed policy beliefs and disqualifies Daniel-Davis from this important role.”
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“Laura Daniel-Davis’ nomination should have been withdrawn over a year ago when she failed to pass the committee,” Daines added in a statement to Fox News Digital. “The latest attack on oil and gas is no surprise. The Biden administration, its out-of-touch nominees and Senate Democrats have long put the cult of climate change ahead of energy security and local communities.”
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Daniel-Davis’ nomination “should be withdrawn immediately.” (Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Barrasso and other Republican members of the committee wrote a letter to Daniel-Davis on February 28, obtained by Fox News Digital, asking him to respond to a series of earlier questions, saying he had not responded. He was also criticized for working with Democrats to avoid a third confirmation hearing.
In another letter on Monday, Barrasso asked Daniel-Davis about his statement during a 2021 hearing that the Biden administration had approved more than 9,000 fossil fuel drilling permits that have not been used by the industry. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently admitted that the figure, repeated by Biden and senior White House officials, was inaccurate.
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“I have serious concerns about the BLM data discrepancy, as this appears to be far from an honest mistake,” Barrasso wrote. “You have a responsibility to ensure that statistics made available to the public, such as this authorized data, are complete and accurate. You have failed on both counts, and the American public has been misled as a result.”
And in September, the group Protect the Public’s Trust filed an ethics complaint against Daniel-Davis, alleging violations of conflict-of-interest laws over the DOI’s 2021 oil and gas lease freeze at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Alaska The group said his previous position in an environmental group influenced his actions.
The DOI had no comment and the White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Thomas Catenacci is a political writer for Fox News Digital.