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Biden’s new climate orders to include pause on federal oil and gas leasing: sources

The Biden administration is expected to announce a temporary suspension of new oil and gas leasing on U.S. federal lands and waters on Wednesday, and to order that nearly a third of federally run acreage is conserved over the next decade, three sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. President Joe Biden will make the announcement as part of a second batch of executive orders aimed at combating climate change, a key policy effort of the newly sworn-in president that marks an about-face from his predecessor Donald Trump who sought to maximize the country’s oil, gas and coal output.

Biden had vowed to ban new federal oil and gas drilling during his campaign for the White House, and his Interior Department last week issued a 60-day suspension of routine drilling approvals pending a review of the program in what was widely viewed as a precursor to a more permanent ban. The orders will impact large swathes of acreage onshore in mostly Western states, as well as offshore drilling acreage located mainly in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Tribal lands, which host significant reserves of oil and gas, were not included in the Interior Department order, and will not be included in Biden’s executive order either, according to the sources.

The sources pointed out that the upcoming order would affect leasing activities, and not permitting, raising the possibility that the government could resume providing drilling permits to those who picked up leases in a series of auctions held in the waning days of the Trump administration. Business groups from major drilling states including Louisiana, New Mexico and Colorado said a leasing ban would do nothing to reduce oil demand – and therefore have no impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. It would also deprive states of revenue at a time when budgets are already depleted due to the coronavirus pandemic, they said.

“This additional economic impact will be devastating and it won’t further our shared goals of reducing carbon emissions,” Rob Black, Chief Executive of the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce, said on a call with reporters.

Biden’s new climate orders to include pause on federal oil and gas leasing: sources, Reuters, Jan 27

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