WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Interior Department said today it would a conduct a thorough analysis of the greenhouse gas impacts of proposed oil drilling on public lands while deferring leasing of some environmentally sensitive areas. The decision comes after a federal judge ordered the Biden administration to restart new onshore and offshore oil and gas lease sales, which had been paused since the start of the administration. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, released the following statement in response:
“It’s welcome news that fact, not fantasy, will guide public land-use decisions. The Biden administration’s decision to perform a fact-based analysis of climate damage while considering whether to lease public lands for oil and gas drilling is a welcome about-face from the rampant Trump-era pattern of climate denial.
“The standards the Biden administration is using to measure the societal impact of carbon emissions are fact-based and international, compared with the Trump-era practice of simply lowballing or ignoring climate impacts.
“Earlier this year, the oil industry was able to use the courts to block the Biden administration’s pause on new oil leases. But that ongoing legal fight should not stop the administration from placing the climate crisis at the center of its analysis of whether the fossil fuel industry should be allowed to drill on public property. At the same time, Congress must end below-market leasing rates, royalties, and fees that subsidize oil and gas companies, encouraging them to exploit our public lands and leave taxpayers on the hook for the environmental damage.”