Biden to resume oil, gas drilling-rights sales as appeal unfolds

17th August 2021 By: Bloomberg

The Biden administration is appealing a federal judge’s ruling against its moratorium on the sale of new drilling rights and expanding its scrutiny of the activity.

“Federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing will continue as required by the district court while the government’s appeal is pending,” the Interior Department said in an emailed statement Monday.

The announcement comes ahead of an August 24 court deadline for the administration to explain how it was complying with a federal district court’s June order that leasing should resume, or risk a finding of contempt. The Interior Department has not yet issued public plans for new or rescheduled lease sales, amid mounting pressure from Congress and the oil industry.

The agency is now embarking on a broad review of the federal oil, gas and coal leasing program, including its climate impact. President Joe Biden had ordered the pause and an analysis of oil and gas leasing on January 27.

“In complying with the district court’s mandate, Interior will continue to exercise the authority and discretion provided under the law to conduct leasing in a manner that takes into account the program’s many deficiencies,” the agency said.

“The department also will undertake a programmatic analysis to address what changes in the department’s programs may be necessary to meet the president’s targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” the statement continued.

Environmental activists have pressed Biden to permanently block oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, arguing that a warming world can’t afford to burn the fossil fuels they contain.