US Pauses Federal Drilling Program

Biden administration has temporarily suspended oil and gas permitting on federal lands and waters in a series of orders aimed at fighting climate change. The order appeared to be a first step in delivering on Biden’s campaign promise to ban new drilling on federal land. Federal leases account for 25% of American crude oil output, making them an important contributor to energy supply but also to the country’s gas emissions.

Environmental groups welcomed the temporary suspension but fossil fuel industry was not a fan of it. The industry tries to secure a future under the Biden administration which makes countering global warming a priority.

The 60-day suspension prevents federal agencies and bureaus from issuing drilling leases or permits while the administration looks into the legal implications of the federal minerals leasing program. The order does not limit existing operations.

Many onshore drilling companies had stockpiled permits in anticipation of a change in federal policy.

Recently, the new administration re-engaged the United States in the Paris climate accord and canceled a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

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