The Biden administration has suspended new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for federal lands and waters for 60 days. Fulfilling his campaign promise to end leasing of federal lands for drilling, the suspension was signed on Wednesday by Acting Interior Sec. Scott de la Vega. Existing oil and gas operations, operating under currently valid leases, are not impacted.
Biden’s order also halted approvals of new mining proposals, and land sales or land exchanges. The order forbids the hiring of new Department of Interior personnel at or above the level of GS 13, considered a temporary measure so that DOI’s new leadership, Deb Haaland, can get her people in place.
Some companies had already taken preemptive action to protect their future viability, and had obtained nearly 1,400 permits on federal lands in primarily Wyoming and New Mexico from the Trump Administration during the period leading up to the election.
American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said the order amounts to an “import more oil policy.”
“Energy demand will continue to rise—especially as the economy recovers—and we can choose to produce that energy here in the United States or rely on foreign countries hostile to American interests. With this move, the administration is leading us toward more reliance on foreign energy from countries with lower environmental standards and risks to hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in government revenue for education and conservation programs. We stand ready to engage with the Biden administration on ways to address America’s energy challenges, but impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery,” Sommers said.