Billings, Montana – The U.S. Department of the Interior will suspend bidding for concessions to exploit oil and gas on public lands from now until June as part of a program review to see how it affects climate change, officials said. Wednesday.
The measure does not affect current concessions and the agency has continued to issue drilling permits during the White House-mandated review of the program, said Nada Culver, deputy director of the Department of the Interior’s Office of Land Management.
Tenders were scheduled in at least two states: Nevada on June 8 and Colorado on June 27. The Associated Press obtained details of the cancellations before they were made public.RELATED
President Joe Biden on Jan. 27 ordered Interior Department officials to review whether the program improperly benefits businesses at the expense of taxpayers and its impact on climate change.
Republican lawmakers say the oil and gas moratoriums will hurt the economies of western states without making a major dent in climate change. There is no date for the review to be completed, but an interim report due out in the middle of the year could reveal the Biden administration’s long-term plans for the concessions.
Burning oil, gas, and coal extracted from government-owned land and water is a major source of emissions in the United States, accounting for 24% of the nation’s greenhouse gases. Oil and gas extracted from federal lands are responsible for most of the man-made emissions derived from fossil fuels after the increase in drilling during the administration of President Donald Trump.
The moratorium on concessions is only temporary, although authorities have declined to say how long it will last. And the extent of the government’s legal authority to stop drilling on some 9 million hectares (23 million acres) previously concessioned is unknown.