RESPONSE to Interior Department announcement delaying some parcels in upcoming oil and gas lease sales

Oct 29, 2021

October 29, 2021

DENVER—The Interior Department today announced that it would defer offering oil and gas leases on some Western public lands that had been scheduled to go up for auction in early 2022 while it completes environmental assessments that analyze greenhouse gas emissions and consider the social cost of the lease sales. 

While full details of the environmental assessments are still unknown, the move is a step toward reforming the leasing system so it accounts for the full climate and social cost of extracting oil and gas from America’s public lands. The Bureau of Land Management today released a report on 2020 greenhouse gas emissions and climate trends, which played a part in the lease sale deferrals.

The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“Today’s announcement is a big step in the right direction. It is irresponsible to lease off millions of acres of public land and water without fully accounting for how that oil and gas will impact the planet and our children. At the same time, this decision demonstrates how crucial it is for the Biden administration to implement full top-to-bottom reforms of the oil and gas leasing system. A piecemeal approach is necessary in the short-term, but it is not a long-term solution, and the clock is ticking.”

Today’s announcement indicates that the administration is deferring an unknown number of acres from the first quarter 2022 lease sale, which had been scheduled to lease around 740,000 acres, primarily in Wyoming and Colorado. However, the administration still plans to auction off 80,000,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico in mid-November, just days after President Biden returns from the U.N. climate summit in Scotland. That sale is projected to generate more than 1,000,000,000 barrels of oil in the coming decades.

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Photo: BLM Wyoming