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The Department of the Interior must consider the climatic implications of oil and gas leasing as part of a settlement

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - According to judicial settlements reached late Wednesday, the Biden administration must thoroughly evalua...


Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - According to judicial settlements reached late Wednesday, the Biden administration must thoroughly evaluate the climate implications of oil and gas leasing on nearly 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) of federal land in five states before drilling can begin.

After Judge Rudolph Contreras of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied industry groups' motion to dismiss three previous settlements from lawsuits brought by western conservation groups against the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, the requirement was imposed.

"These settlements offer a critical opportunity for the Biden administration to align federal action with this climate reality and to uphold its promise to current and future generations," Kyle Tisdel, senior attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center, one of the plaintiffs, said.

The agreements came six years after environmental groups such as WELC and WildEarth Guardians joined forces to file lawsuits in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, challenging the sale of millions of acres of public property for drilling.

Contreras suspended the drilling licenses in March 2019 and ordered Interior to do a more thorough environmental analysis that took into account the greenhouse gas emissions associated with drilling. After an industry challenge, he upheld the provision this week.

The agreement puts pressure on the Biden administration to perform a thorough environmental study of the leases at a time when the president is under fire from his base for reneging on campaign promises on climate change, such as stopping new oil and gas drilling on federal land.

President Joe Biden has been battling with widespread inflation and a conflict in Europe more than a year into his term, emphasizing energy security by releasing record volumes of crude oil from strategic reserves and pressing drillers to pump harder to keep up with demand.

Meanwhile, his multibillion-dollar climate change package has perished in Congress due to Republican and conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's opposition.

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