President Joe Biden walks with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at the Harris County Emergency Operations Center in Houston. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
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In its announcement, the Interior Department said that BLM would make approximately 144,000 acres of federal land available for lease beginning Monday — an 80% reduction in the acreage originally considered for oil and gas exploration.
The Department also announced that energy companies will have to pay the government royalties amounting to 18.75% of the value of what they extract from any new lease, up from 12.5%.
“How we manage our public lands and waters says everything about what we value as a nation. For too long, the federal oil and gas leasing programs have prioritized the wants of extractive industries above local communities, the natural environment, the impact on our air and water, the needs of Tribal Nations, and, moreover, other uses of our shared public lands,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “Today, we begin to reset how and what we consider to be the highest and best use of Americans’ resources for the benefit of all current and future generations.”
On inauguration day Biden suspended leases but the current move follows a Louisiana federal judge’s ruling that injuncted his order, saying that only Congress has the power to pause offshore oil and gas leases.
This is a sign that Biden and his administration are following the order and throwing in the towel on that fight agains the 13 states who were fighting him.