Planning for Oil and Gas Drilling Leases on Federal Lands Resumes under Biden’s Administration

On Friday, the Department of the Interior announced it will begin planning for oil and gas lease issuance on federal lands.

According to Washington Examiner, after the agency was temporarily permitted to use the increased social cost of carbon, or SCC, in its decision-making process for leasing after an appeals court ruled two days later.

“With this ruling, the Department continues its planning for responsible oil and gas development on America’s public lands and waters,” Interior Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said in a statement, per Bloomberg.

“Calculating the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions provides important information that has been part of the foundation of the work the Interior Department has undertaken over the past year.”

A date was not specified for when the department would begin issuing new permits and leases. The department’s Bureau of Land Management had been planning to sell leases in several states before the February court ruling blocked the administration from using the increased SCC figure, according to Reuters.

After Joe Biden became president in 2021, he signed an executive order raising the SCC from $7 to $51. This measure measures the economic cost of carbon dioxide emissions.

However, last month, Judge James Cain Jr. of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled that the Biden administration lacked authority to increase the climate metric in a lawsuit brought by 10 Republican-led states.

The Biden administration responded by announcing delays in its oil and gas leasing program as it battles to appeal the decision.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the Biden administration can temporarily resume using the increased SCC during its review.

The Interior Department announced on Friday that it will resume issuing new leases and permits for drilling on public lands.

As part of the agency’s reform efforts, it also announced plans to fix “the significant shortcomings” in its oil and gas programs.

“Specifically, the Department is committed to ensuring its programs account for climate impacts, provide a fair return to taxpayers, discourage speculation, hold operators responsible for remediation, and more fully include communities, Tribal, state and local governments in decision-making,” the agency stated, according to Bloomberg.

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