WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Interior Department told a federal judge that it will soon begin the process of holding new onshore and offshore oil and gas lease sales, restarting the leasing process as early as next Tuesday. The timeline puts Interior on track to hold offshore lease auctions as early as October and onshore auctions in early 2022. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, released the following statement:
“The Biden administration’s disclosure in a federal court filing that it will shortly resume the process of holding new onshore and offshore oil and gas lease sales is distressing news. The first, easiest steps to address the climate crisis are to stop making things worse. More oil and gas leasing is insane policy in light of the climate crisis.
“The administration’s hands are somewhat tied by a flawed district court ruling enjoining its pause on oil and gas drilling on public lands, but while it has appealed the ruling, it should do more to prevent the damage that new leasing will inflict.
“Among other measures, the Biden administration should force Dirty Energy companies to clean up the mess they have created on public lands and pay higher royalties for the privilege of extracting resources from public lands. And, while the administration’s appeal is pending, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland should use her discretion under the law to authorize the least amount of leasing required to comply with the court’s order.”