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The Biden administration resumes oil and gas leases on federal land but in a reduced capacity and with steeper fees

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Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

This past Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would resume granting lease sales for the drilling of oil and natural gas on federal lands.

However, as the Washington Examiner reported, the Biden administration intends to drastically decrease the amount of federal land available for drilling and plans to increase the royalty it charges companies to produce oil on federal lands.

In a recently released press release, the Department of the Interior said that it will make 144,000 acres of federal lands available for drilling. This is an 80% reduction in acreage that was originally designated for natural gas production. The department will also begin charging companies drilling royalties of 18.75% instead of 12.5%.

The release said, “The [Bureau of Land Management] will issue final environmental assessments and sale notices of upcoming oil and gas leases that reflect this strategic approach.”

“The lease sales will incorporate many of the recommendations in the Department’s report,” the release continued. “Including ensuring Tribal consultation and broad community input, reliance of the best available science including analysis of GHG emissions, and a first-ever increase in the royalty rate for new competitive leases to 18.75 percent, to ensure fair return for the American taxpayers and on par with rates charged by states and private landowners.”

It continued, “The BLM assessed potentially available and eligible acreage in Alabama, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. It began analyzing 646 parcels on roughly 733,000 acres that had been previously nominated for leasing by energy companies. As a result of robust environmental review, engagement with Tribes and communities, and prioritizing the American people’s broad interests in public lands, the final sale notices will offer approximately 173 parcels on roughly 144,000 acres, an 80 percent reduction from the acreage originally nominated.”

This move by the Department of the Interior comes as the Biden administration begins to acknowledge the importance of increasing domestic energy production amid soaring energy prices.

Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, called the department’s new plan an overdue “reset’ of the leasing program.

She said, “For too long, the federal oil and gas leasing programs have prioritized the wants of extractive industries above local communities, the natural environment, the impact on our air and water, the needs of Tribal Nations, and, moreover, other uses of our shared public lands.”'

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Western nations issued thoroughgoing sanctions on the Russian economy. The U.S. was quick to stop importing Russian oil, and since the Biden administration ended American energy independence, American energy prices drastically rose as there was suddenly less oil being imported.

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