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Biden stops oil and gas leases in the midst of a legal battle on climate change

After a federal court halted officials from calculating the true-world climate-change costs, the Biden administration delayed decisions regarding new oil and gas drilling on federal lands and other energy-related actions.

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Biden stops oil and gas leases in the midst of a legal battle on climate change

In a legal filing, the administration stated that a February. The administration stated in a legal filing that a February 11 Louisiana federal judge's ruling will have an impact on dozens of federal agencies' rules. One of the immediate consequences is an indefinite delay in planned oil and gas leasing sales on public land in half-a dozen West states, including Wyoming and Montana.

The administration stated that the ruling will also delay plans to limit methane waste emissions from natural gaz drilling on public lands, and a court-ordered plan for developing energy conservation standards in manufactured housing. Officials also said that the ruling will delay a $2.3 million federal grant program for transit projects.
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The Justice Department filed a brief late Saturday that "confirmed certain activities related to fossil fuel leasing and permits programs are affected by the February 11, 20,22 injunction," the Interior Department stated in a statement. "Delays are anticipated in permitting and leasing of the oil and gas programmes."

Interior is moving forward with reforms to oil-and-gas programs offshore and onshore. A spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said that Interior "is committed to ensuring its programmes account for climate impacts."

These delays are due to a U.S. District Court Judge James Cain of Louisiana's Western District, who stopped federal agencies using an estimate called the "social cost of Carbon" to evaluate pollution from carbon dioxide from energy production and other sources. This decision prevented the Biden administration's use of a higher estimate of the society-damaging effects that each additional ton greenhouse gas pollution has on the environment.

On his first day of office, President Joe Biden restored the climate cost estimate at about $51 per ton carbon dioxide emissions. This was after President Donald Trump had decreased the figure to $7 per ton. Trump's estimate only included damages in the United States, not the global harm previously used to calculate by President Barack Obama.

This damage figure is based on economic models that capture the impacts of rising sea levels, recurring dry spells, and other effects of climate change. It also helps to shape regulations for oil and gas drilling and automobile production. A higher cost estimate could help to justify reducing planet-warming emission by making the benefits outweigh the costs of following new rules.

Dominic Mancini, deputy administrator of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, White House Office of Management and Budget, stated that "the cumulative burden of this preliminary injunction" is significant.

Mancini stated that 21 rulemakings from the Energy Department would be affected by this ruling. The Transportation Department had nine, the Environmental Protection Agency had five, and the Interior Department three. He said that the ruling would also affect dozens of additional environmental analyses required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Mancini wrote a 24-page letter supporting the Justice Department's request to stay Cain's ruling.

Changes in key parameters like the social cost of greenhouse gasses would require agencies "to re-run numerical simulations and models that they may have used to develop impact assessments," he said. This may also force agencies to review new figures, which can take more time.

Cain's ruling, a Trump appointee was made after 10 Republican attorneys general sued Biden over his executive order. They argued that Biden did not have the authority to increase the climate-cost estimate in accordance with the Constitution. Congress has that power. Cain also agreed, writing that the use of the climate-damage figure in oil and natural gas lease reviews would "artificially raise the cost estimates for lease sales" and cause harm to energy-producing countries.

Biden had not used the carbon cost estimate often, but it is now being reviewed in an environmental review of oil-and gas lease sales in western States. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso stated that the Biden administration failed to meet a deadline for announcing a planned lease sale in the state. He said that the administration "continues defying the courts and law" by failing to advance oil drilling on public lands.

Barrasso, a top Republican on Senate Energy Committee, stated that "Even in face of a global oil crisis, historic inflation, and skyrocketing gasoline price, the Biden administration continues crushing U.S. fuel production."

Environmental groups called it ironic that drilling projects were delayed, as Republican officials brought the case to speed up drilling on federal lands.

Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, said that "delay isn't enough." "These fossil fuel projects, which are incompatible with Biden’s goal to avoid 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, must be cancelled. As Biden promised, they will.

To avoid the worst effects of global climate change, world leaders have set a goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Despite their campaign promises, Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haland continued to issue permits for oil-and gas leasing on federal land. These actions were described by McKinnon as "a stunning failure of climate leadership at the global stage."

Michael Greenstone, a University of Chicago economist, helped to establish the social cost of carbon during his time in the Obama administration. He called it an important tool for addressing climate change. He said that reducing it to the Trump administration level effectively eliminates all of the teeth in climate regulations.


 

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