The Interior Department today is auctioning vast oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico estimated to hold up to 1.1 billion barrels of crude, the first such sale under President Joe Biden and a harbinger of the challenges he faces to reach climate goals that depend on deep cuts in fossil fuel emissions.
The livestreamed sale invited energy companies to bid on drilling leases across some 136,000 square miles—about twice the size of Florida. It will take years to develop the leases before companies start pumping crude, meaning they could keep producing long past 2030.
The auction comes after a federal judge in a lawsuit brought by Republican state attorneys general, including Louisiana’s Jeff Landry, rejected a suspension of fossil fuel sales that Biden imposed when he took office.
The federal energy bureau said in pre-sale documents released Tuesday that it received bids on 307 tracts totaling nearly 2,700 square miles. That’s the largest total for a single sale since Gulf-wide bidding resumed in 2017. The seven prior sales generated almost $1 billion in total revenue. Read more about the sale, and the ongoing debate over fossil fuels production.