In climate reversal, Biden okays new oil and gas mega auction

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday announced plans to open more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration after a court ruled against the government’s lease break.

The decision marks a significant step backwards for the White House’s ambitious climate agenda and was quickly challenged by a coalition of environmental groups.

The Ministry of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management expects a final sale announcement in September, “with a lease purchase in the fall of this year,” the agency said in a statement.

In January, Biden announced a moratorium on state drilling pending review as the Democrat tried to put the climate crisis at the center of his presidency.

But in June, a Louisiana judge appointed by former President Donald Trump stepped in to rule that the government needed Congressional approval for its hiatus.

According to a minutes of the resolution published online, the government is forecasting up to 1.1 billion barrels of oil and 4.4 trillion cubic feet of gas from the auction.

It took note of a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which “detailed observations of rapidly changing climate in every region around the world,” but said it was not a sufficient reason at this point to change the environmental impact statement for the wells.

Environmental groups led by the advocacy group Earthjustice sued the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Interior Minister Deb Haaland.

“After Hurricane Ida, it is clear that we must do everything in our power to move away from fossil fuels to reduce the effects of climate change such as stronger, more frequent hurricanes,” said Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of Healthy Gulf.

“This hire purchase is deeply disappointing. The Biden government has joined the oil industry as a result of its disinformation and political pressure campaigns and has ignored the worsening climate emergency we are facing, ”added Brettny Hardy, attorney for Earthjustice. – AFP

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