U.S. holds historic oil and gas lease sale in Gulf of Mexico days after climate summit

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  • The Biden administration is opening more than 80 million acres of oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to auction on Wednesday, a record offshore lease sale that will kick off years of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The lease sale is a major reversal of Biden’s commitment to closing new oil and natural gas leases on public land and waters.
  • The move comes days after the president pledged to aggressively reduce emissions during the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

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The Biden administration is opening more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to auction for oil and gas drilling on Wednesday Record Offshore Lease Sales That would pay off in years of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

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The lease sale marks a major reversal of Biden’s commitment to closing new oil and natural gas leases on public land and water and just days after the president pledged to reduce emissions during the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Comes.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the lease sale has the potential to emit more than 516 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere—the equivalent of the annual emissions of 130 coal-fired power plants or 112 million cars.

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“This administration went to Scotland and told the world that America’s climate leadership is back, and now it’s going to hand over 80 million acres of public water in the Gulf of Mexico to fossil fuel companies,” said House Natural Resources Committee chairman Raul Grijalva, D. -Ariz., said in a statement,

The president signed an executive order in January instructing the Interior Secretary to halt new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters and begin a thorough review of existing permits for fossil fuel development.

But in June, a federal judge in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction blocking the administration’s suspension and ordered that plans continue for lease sales that had been delayed for Gulf and Alaska waters.

The US Justice Department is asking an appeals court to overturn the judge’s order.

Environmental advocacy groups have condemned the administration for not taking strong action to block the injunction and have sued the administration over its decision to stop the sale.

Their lawsuit argues that Interior’s environmental analysis in 2017 regarding Gulf sales is flawed and ignores new data showing increased threats from pipeline leaks.

“The Biden administration is burning the fuse on a large carbon bomb in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Kristen Monsell, ocean legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is hard to imagine a more dangerous, hypocritical action after a climate summit.”

“This will inevitably lead to more catastrophic oil spills, more toxic climate pollution, and more suffering for communities and wildlife along the Gulf Coast,” Monsell said.

Interior spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said the department is complying with the judge’s order while the government appeals the decision, adding that the agency “is doing a more comprehensive analysis of greenhouse gas impacts from potential oil and gas lease sales than ever before.” has been.”

The Biden administration has approved 3,091 new drilling permits on public land at a rate of 332 per month, a faster pace than the Trump administration’s 300 permits per month.

The approval of permits for fossil fuel production stands in contrast to Biden’s aggressive climate agenda, which includes a pledge to halve US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

“The dichotomy between selling leasing and cutting US carbon emissions is clear,” EarthJustice Attorney Brettney Hardy said. “By selling these leases, the Biden administration is not stirring up today’s oil prices, but increasing the United States’ climate heat emissions tomorrow.”

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