(Reuters) - The Biden administration has temporarily suspended oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands and waters while it evaluates the legal and policy implications of the program, according to a Department of Interior memo.
The move appears to be a first step in delivering on newly sworn-in President Joe Biden’s campaign promise to ban all new federal drilling permits, part of his wider agenda to combat global climate change.
The order was welcomed by environmentalists and derided by the oil and gas industry, whose largest onshore drilling companies have stockpiled permits here in anticipation of a change in federal policy.
U. S. federal lands and waters account for close to 25% of the nation’s crude oil output, making them a big contributor to energy supply but also to America’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had sought to maximize production of oil, gas and coal on federal acreage, and routinely downplayed threats from global warming.