The Biden administration is appealing a ruling from a Louisiana-based federal judge blocking its indefinite pause on oil and natural gas leasing in federal lands and waters.
The Department of Justice is appealing the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Interior Department said in a statement Monday. The agency also said that, during the appeals process, it would comply with the preliminary nationwide injunction against its leasing pause granted in June to more than a dozen oil and gas producing states.
But Interior said it would continue leasing in a way that takes into account the “deficiencies” within the government’s oil and gas leasing program.
Interior is reviewing the program and is expected to release a report later this summer on whether it intends to make the pause on leasing permanent or propose reforms to raise costs and impose stricter regulation on oil and gas development on public lands and waters instead.
In its statement, Interior criticized how the agency has historically granted oil and gas leases by “failing to adequately” consider climate change impacts or reflect the social costs of greenhouse gas emissions in setting royalty rates that producers pay to the government. Interior also stressed its interest in ensuring public lands are available for multiple uses and providing a fair return to taxpayers from energy development.
It’s unclear if Interior’s commitment to continue leases during the appeals process will satisfy oil and gas producing states and industry groups that sued over the leasing pause and argued the Biden administration was not complying with the federal judge’s ruling from June.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January imposing an indefinite pause on issuing new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters, a step toward fulfilling a major campaign promise of his aggressive agenda to address climate change.
The pause was met with fierce backlash from the fossil fuel industry and states, including Democratic-led ones, that depend on oil and gas production revenue to fund their budgets.
It has not stopped companies from obtaining permits to drill and develop oil and gas on existing leases.
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Original Author: Josh Siegel
Original Location: Biden administration appeals ruling blocking oil and gas leasing pause