Biden Admin Bows To Environmental Activists, Quietly Delays Another Oil And Gas Lease Sale

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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The Biden administration confirmed Wednesday it delayed four onshore oil and gas lease sales planned for this month to resolve protests from environmental groups.

“The date for these sales has shifted slightly to complete the analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act and allow time for protest resolution,” the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Wednesday.

The BLM, which oversees onshore lease sales, filed notices for six sales — in New MexicoWyomingColoradoNevadaUtahMontana and North Dakota — in April, blaming a June 2021 federal court injunction that blocked President Joe Biden’s attempted moratorium on new federal fossil fuel leasing. The six lease sales were scheduled after the Department of the Interior placed restrictions on the onshore lease program. (RELATED: Biden Admin Quietly Opens Up Land To Oil Drilling — With Just One Catch)

BLM’s first sale, which covers five parcels across 2,560 acres in Nevada, was originally planned for June 14 but was inexplicably delayed two weeks, according to a June 8 filing notifying interested parties of the new date. The agency also delayed the sales in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico without giving an explanation in separate filings.

Oil drilling rigs work in the Permian Basin oil field on March 13 in Midland, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Oil drilling rigs work in the Permian Basin oil field on March 13 in Midland, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In May, the Sierra Club and Western Environmental Law Center filed separate protests with the BLM regarding the Nevada sale, arguing it wasn’t legally mandated by the court injunction and that the agency needed to conduct an environmental review before moving forward with the sale. The Sierra Club filing consisted of nearly 12,900 pages of comments from the group’s members opposing the sale.

“A new report was recently published with the prediction that within five years we will cross the 1.5 C threshold,” one Sierra Club member wrote in the group’s protest. “More drilling will only allow us to reach this threshold but will maintain us above it forever. Humans will die!”

“Transition from fossil fuels was promised by Biden (who apparently is drilling MORE than TRUMP -WTF), and is going to be uncomfortable (not as uncomfortable as catastrophic climate crisis)! We need to get people and businesses on board with that idea, and worry less about EXXON’S bottom line,” another wrote.

There hasn’t been a single federal onshore oil and gas lease sale since Biden took office nearly 17 months ago. Kathleen Sgamma, the president of fossil fuel industry group the Western Energy Alliance, noted the long delays when asked whether she was concerned about BLM’s delays.

“After a year and a half of the Biden ban on leasing, what’s another week or two? I’m not terribly concerned that the sales have been delayed for a matter of days up to a few weeks,” Sgamma told TheDCNF in an email. “We can surmise that Utah’s sale will likely be delayed as well. It sounds like these are slight delays for administrative purposes.”

“I’ll only become concerned if they get delayed again or don’t happen at all this month,” she continued.

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