Interior moves ahead with oil and gas lease planning after court reinstates climate tool

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The Department of the Interior said Friday it could move forward with planning to lease oil and gas on federal lands after earlier delays stemming from a court ruling blocking a climate accounting tool.

Earlier, the department said there would be delays in ‘clearing and leasing oil and gas programs’ after a lower court barred the Biden administration from using a tool that allowed it to calculate climate costs of such actions.

But an appeal court this week made this decision.

Interior spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said in an emailed statement Friday that the department “is now continuing planning for responsible oil and gas development on public U.S. lands and waters,” to the light of the new decision.

Schwartz declined to comment further on the rental, bBut she said the permits were never halted, saying the court ruling impacted fewer than 20 permits.

The American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas lobbying group, applauded the announcement but also called for further action in a statement.

“At a time when the administration and its allies around the world are calling for more American energy, we welcome today’s announcement by the Department of the Interior and urge the administration to hold lease sales onshore under the Mining Leasing Act with sufficient acreage and fair terms,” ​​said Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute.

“We also call on the administration to accelerate the long-delayed five-year leasing program on the outer continental shelf,” he added, referring to an offshore drilling plan.

The latest news comes after an appeals court this week overturned a lower court injunction that had prevented the Biden administration from using values ​​known as the ‘social costs of greenhouse gases’. .

The administration uses these “social costs” in the analyzes behind regulations and permits to help it understand the climate consequences of an action, and the costs or benefits that these consequences will have on society.

Following the initial decision preventing it from using the cost values ​​it had imposed, the federal government said it would upset dozens of environmental regulations and reviews.

Leasing is just one step in a process companies must follow to extract oil and gas from federal lands and waters, so changes to leasing policy are not expected to have significant impacts to short term on fuel availability.

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