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A federal judge canceled major oil and gas leases due to climate change: NPR

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A federal judge canceled major oil and gas leases due to climate change: NPR

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A man fishes near docked oil drilling rigs in 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. A federal judge has revoked oil and gas leases sold in the Gulf of Mexico in November, saying the Interior Department failed to consider its impact on climate change.

Eric Gay/AP


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Eric Gay/AP

A federal judge canceled major oil and gas leases due to climate change: NPR

 | Top stories

A man fishes near docked oil drilling rigs in 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. A federal judge has revoked oil and gas leases sold in the Gulf of Mexico in November, saying the Interior Department failed to consider its impact on climate change.

Eric Gay/AP

Late last year, just days after pledging to cut fossil fuels at international climate talks in Glasgow, the Biden administration staged the biggest sale of oil and gas concessions in the world. United States history.

On Thursday, a federal judge struck down that sale to the Gulf of Mexico, saying the administration had failed to adequately consider the costs to the global climate.

The administration used an analysis conducted under former President Donald Trump that environmental groups said was seriously flawed.

The move represents a major victory for a coalition of environmental groups who have challenged the controversial sale, calling it a “huge climate bomb”.

Eighty million acres – an area twice the size of Florida – were put up for auction in November.

Climate groups have urged the Biden administration to halt the sale, but the Interior Department said it was forced to go ahead after another federal judge overturned the government’s temporary moratorium. administration on new oil and gas lease sales. Oil and gas companies ultimately only bid on 1.7 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico.

These leases will be canceled by the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and the Department of the Interior will have to carry out a new environmental analysis if it decides to organize another sale.

“We are pleased that the court has struck down the Interior’s illegal lease sale,” Earthjustice lead attorney Brettny Hardy said. “We simply cannot continue to invest in the fossil fuel industry at the risk of our communities and the increasingly warming planet.”

The development and consumption of fossil fuels is the main driver of climate change. The world has already warmed by more than 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times, worsening wildfires, hurricanes and heat waves, and disrupting the natural world.

About a quarter of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from fossil fuels extracted from public lands.

The Biden administration has promised to review the country’s oil and gas leasing program to better take into account its contribution to climate change.

Shortly after taking office, he temporarily blocked all new oil and gas leases on public lands while he conducted his review, but the moratorium was lifted after being challenged by more than a dozen people. Republican-Run States.

Planned lease sales resumed after the move, including the massive Gulf sale, which prompted nearly $200 million in offers.

The climate impact analysis used by the Biden administration was actually conducted under former President Donald Trump. He argued that not leasing the acreage would result in more greenhouse gas emissions because it would increase fossil fuel production overseas.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras wrote that the Department of the Interior acted “arbitrarily and capriciously in excluding foreign consumption from its greenhouse gas emissions,” adding that “the error was indeed a serious breach”.

“The offshore region of the United States is vital to American energy security, and continued leases are essential to sustaining energy from this strategic national asset,” said Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association in a statement.

The Biden administration could choose to reanalyze and place the Gulf of Mexico section in another lease sale. Environmental groups would wait.

The fight is not over,” said Hallie Templeton, legal director of Friends of the Earth. “We will continue to hold the Biden administration accountable for making unlawful decisions that contradict its commitment to take swift and urgent action. on climate and environmental justice priorities.”

A federal judge canceled major oil and gas leases due to climate change: NPR

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