Biden administration suspends federal oil and gas permitting

Biden administration suspends federal oil and gas permitting

16:02 - The Biden administration has temporarily suspended oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands and waters while it evaluates the legal and policy implications of the program, according to a Department of Interior memo.

The move appears to be a first step in delivering on newly sworn-in President Joe Biden’s campaign promise to ban all new federal drilling permits, part of his wider agenda to combat global climate change.

U.S. federal lands and waters account for close to 25% of the nation’s crude oil output, making them a big contributor to America’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had sought to maximize production of oil, gas and coal on federal acreage, and routinely downplayed threats from global warming.

In the order, dated Jan. 20 and seen by Reuters on Thursday, Biden’s Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega suspended the authority of agency offices to issue fossil fuel authorizations, revise land management plans, approve ground-disturbing activities, and more.

During the pause, activities may be approved by certain agency officials in Washington, the memo said.

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