Emissions from federal oil and gas lease sales under increased scrutiny 

(iStock)

Oil and gas lease sales—one of the tent poles propping up Louisiana’s economy—are again under scrutiny from the Biden administration. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management said today that industry regulators for the first time will begin analyzing greenhouse gas emissions from federal oil and gas leases on a national scale, as they prepare to hold lease sales in numerous Western states next year. 

The announcement came as officials released a report saying fossil fuel extraction from federal lands produced more than 1 billion tons of greenhouse gases last year. That’s about one-fifth of all energy-related emissions.

President Joe Biden campaigned on promises to end new drilling on public lands to help combat climate change. But a federal judge in Louisiana blocked his attempt to suspend new leases while oil and gas sales underwent a sweeping review.

Including greenhouse gas emissions in lease sale reviews will allow the administration to highlight what scientists say are costs of greenhouse gas emissions—from rising sea levels and wildfires, to public health problems.

Environmental assessments that include a greenhouse gas analysis will be released in coming days for lease sales planned early next year in Colorado, Montana, the Dakotas, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Mississippi and Alabama, bureau officials say.

Federal agencies previously conducted reviews of potential greenhouse gas impacts from individual lease sales following court orders. Officials in many cases concluded the emissions were miniscule on a global scale.

But environmentalists have long maintained those reviews were too narrow, and ignored the cumulative impact of huge tracts of public lands in multiple states and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico being leased for oil, gas and coal extraction. Read the full story.