Oil and gas leases in the United States will be resumed by the Biden administration after a federal judge in Louisiana ordered a resumption of auctions, as we reported previously. As Reuter reports, the Biden administration will open up for lease millions of acres for exploration.
The resumption will have around 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, along with potentially hundreds of thousands of more acres onshore, which represents a serious setback for Joe Biden’s climate agenda.
During his campaign, Joe Biden pledged to ban all new lease sales for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. He was severely criticized by Republicans and conservatives, as many states in the U.S. heavily rely on oil and gas income.
Yet on his first day in office, President Biden imposed a pause over any new oil and gas leases; the administration needed to conduct a review on the environmental impacts and the value to taxpayers. Although the pause has been lifted, such review is ongoing, according to U.S. officials quoted by Reuters.
The news of the lifted pause came from the U.S. Interior Department this Tuesday. It said it would offer almost all available unleased blocks in an area bigger than 90 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Big oil and gas potential for new auctions
Ultimately, the sale could result in the production of 1,1 billion barrels of crude oil; 4,4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to a sale document posted online. The sale would be almost as big as offshore sales held by the Trump administration, infamous for its “oil and all costs” policy.
After the decision, four environmental groups filed lawsuits against the government in federal court in Washington. They argue that the underlying environmental analysis was flawed and violated federal law. The groups were Friends of the Earth, Healthy Gulf, Sierra Club, and Center for Biological Diversity.
Brettny Hardy, an attorney with Earthjustice, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the environmental groups, said. “The Biden administration has folded to the oil industry, ignoring the worsening climate emergency we face.”
Finally, lands for potential auction are in Alabama, Mississippi, Montana; also, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming, according to documents posted on a government website. Sales will happen in early 2022.