Biden administration says oil leasing to resume on federal land

Ari Natter 3/18/2022

(Bloomberg) — The Biden administration said Friday it would resume plans for oil and gas drilling on federal lands after a federal appeals court granted a White House request to allow the administration to use a revamped metric for calculating the potential cost to society of greenhouse gas emissions. 

“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 an email. “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.”

The Interior Department last month said the permits and leases to drill on public lands would be delayed after a Louisiana-based federal district judge blocked federal agencies from using the administration’s “social cost of carbon,” which was the subject of a 2021 executive order directing federal agencies weighing environmental permitting and regulatory decisions to consider a metric for estimating the societal costs from carbon dioxide associated with those moves. 

A federal appeals court in New Orleans on Wednesday granted the White House’s request to temporarily let federal agencies use Biden’s new cost-benefit analysis rules, which ultimately aim to slow climate change by making activities that emit greenhouse gases sharply more expensive.

A group of 10 energy-producing states, with the support of a raft of industry trade groups, claimed in their legal challenge that Biden’s formulas would cost the U.S. economy “hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars” and “may be the most significant regulatory encroachment upon individual liberty and state sovereignty in American history.”

The Interior Department said it continues to move forward with reforms to address “the significant shortcomings” in the nation’s onshore and offshore 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 said.

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