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As oil and gas lease sales resume, both environmental and industry groups say they're dissatisfied

An oil pumpjack works at dawn Jan. 20 in the oil town of Andrews, Texas.
Spencer Platt
/
Getty Images
The U.S. Department of the Interior this week is holding its first onshore oil and gas lease sale since 2021.

The U.S. Department of the Interior this week is holding its first onshore oil and gas lease sale since President Joe Biden took office and paused new permits to review the program.

The sales come after a federal judge in April ordered them to resume.

This year’s sales offer 80% fewer parcels than industry members had requested and increases royalties for companies by 50%, the first time the federal government has increased rates since implementing them in the 1920s.

Environmental groups say the sales conflict with the Biden administration's promises to tackle climate change. Ten U.S. conservation organizations sued the Biden administration this week.

Attorney Melissa Hornbein with the Western Environmental Law Center represents the plaintiffs and says the sales conflicts with Biden’s promises to tackle climate change.

“Fundamentally and from a scientific and societal perspective, that’s the wrong decision,” Hornbein said.

Meanwhile, oil and gas groups say the Biden administration overextended the pause and is creating other barriers to development.

“These are some of the smallest sales that we’ve seen in a long time,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Colorado-based Western Energy Alliance.

The Bureau of Land Management is offering leases in Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota, as well as in Alabama, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.