Biden May Not Hold Any Offshore Oil and Gas Leases Until the End of His Term, Industry Group Says

The American Petroleum Institute (API), a leading industry group, said the next offshore oil and gas lease sale likely wouldn’t come until early 2024 following the latest Biden administration update.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced Thursday that it would issue an updated proposed program plan for offshore lease sales by June 30. The API, though, said the announcement confirms the administration is “significantly behind” in the multi-year process required for approving a new five-year offshore plan, likely delaying lease sales until early 2024.

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Biden Administration Backtracks on Media Reports Signaling Oil, Gas Leasing Resumption

The Biden administration backtracked on reports that it is resuming the federal oil and gas leasing program in light of a recent appeals court decision.

On Friday, Reuters reported that the Department of the Interior (DOI), the agency tasked with overseeing the leasing program, was planning to resume the previously-delayed program. But a DOI spokesperson pushed back on the report, saying it overstated the administration’s position that it would begin planning the next steps, not that it had already resumed the program.

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Biden Administration Defies Court Ruling Again, Opts Against Holding Oil Drilling Sales

The Biden administration missed another deadline to hold quarterly onshore oil drilling lease sales after a federal court ruled it was legally required to do so.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) defied the June 2021 court ruling which ordered the administration to halt its ban on new oil and gas leases, the Western Energy Alliance — a fossil fuel industry group that challenged the ban — said Wednesday. In August 2021, the DOI vowed to publish notices of competitive sales in December and hold a lease sale 45 days later, two promises it failed to keep, in court filings.

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Biden Administration Green-Lights Multiple Solar Projects to Power 274,000 Homes

The Biden administration approved two solar projects, and it is nearing approval of a third, that will power hundreds of thousands of homes in California.

Construction of the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects — the two that received administration approval — will begin immediately on a large swath of land in Riverside County, California, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on Tuesday. Together, the projects will cost $689 million, be able to produce 465 megawatts of electricity, store 400 megawatts of energy and power 132,000 homes.

Oberon, the third solar project mentioned in the announcement, would be built on 2,700 acres of public lands in Riverside County if approved, according to DOI. The project would generate 500 megawatts of electricity and power an additional 142,000 households.

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Watchdog Demands Inspector General Investigation into Tracy Stone-Manning’s Allegedly False Statements About Eco-Terrorism Case

A government watchdog group demanded that the Department of the Interior Inspector General launch an investigation into whether President Joe Biden’s Senate-confirmed Bureau of Land Management director nominee violated the False Statement Act with statements she made to Congress about her involvement in a 1989 eco-terrorism case during her confirmation process.

Tracy Stone-Manning was confirmed to lead the agency along a party-line vote on Sept. 30 amid strong opposition from Republicans who accused her of lying to the Senate Energy Committee about her involvement in an eco-terrorism case. Stone-Manning testified in federal court in 1993 that she sent an anonymous, threatening letter to the Forest Service in 1989 on behalf of her former roommate and friend which warned that a local forest in Idaho had been sabotaged with tree spikes to make the trees unsafe to log.

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‘Devastating’: Biden Ignores Lawmakers’ Pleas, Orders Massive Expansion of Utah Monuments

President Joe Biden will order the Department of the Interior Friday to vastly expand two Utah monuments which the Trump administration reduced in size.

The president will restore protections for both the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments located in Utah, the White House announced. Biden’s order will re-expand the monuments from their reduced size of slightly more than 1 million acres to 3.2 million acres.

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Oil Prices Hit a Seven-Year High as Industry Feud with Biden Administration Continues

Oil prices hit a 7-year high this week as American oil and gas companies continue to fight the Biden administration over policies restricting production.

As the economy began to reopen this year and the demand for fuel increased, President Joe Biden, through executive order, halted and restricted oil and gas leases on federal lands, stopped construction of the Keystone Pipeline, and redirected U.S. policy to import more oil from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia (OPEC+) instead of bolstering American oil and gas exploration and production.

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Interior Department Announces Reforms to Endangered Species Act Procedures

The Trump administration on Monday announced reforms to the Endangered Species Act that it says will “increase transparency and effectiveness” in the law’s implementation.

One of the reforms removes a blanket rule which treats protections for threatened species the same as endangered species. It will also require the same standards be used when officials consider delisting or reclassifying species.

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Judge Strikes Down Trump’s Deal with Alaskan Tribal Community to Deny Life-Saving Road

by Tim Pearce   A federal judge vacated a land swap agreement Friday between an Alaskan village and the Department of the Interior because the federal government violated procedural law when making the deal. U.S. District Court of Alaska Judge Sharon Gleason nullified a January 2018 deal that traded roughly…

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Sources: Zinke Deputy David Bernhardt Likely to be Named as Acting Secretary of the Interior

by Michael Bastach   President Donald Trump will likely name David Bernhardt, the current number-two official at the Department of the Interior, as acting secretary until a full-time replacement can be found. One source close to the Trump administration said Bernhardt would be a likely pick, and Politico reported in October that…

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Zinke Ends Obama-Era Policy Requiring Energy Companies Fund Environmental ‘Mitigation’ Projects

Ryan Zinke

by Tim Pierce   The Department of the Interior (DOI) is scrapping an Obama-era policy mandating energy companies mitigate development on federal land by funding offsite environmental projects. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — a DOI-controlled agency and the largest land-owning agency in the U.S. — began forcing oil,…

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After 150 Years, Secretary Zinke Unveils Plan to Reorganize the Department of Interior

Ryan Zinke

By Printus LeBlanc   When Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke was sworn in, he came into a department that has not reorganized in 150 years. However, in the same timeframe new agencies were created, miles of red tape were introduced, and volumes of rules were added. The mammoth bureaucracy and inefficiencies…

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The Department of the Interior Will Pay 1,900 Local Governments $553 Million in ‘Lost Tax Revenue’ in 2018

federal lands

by Daniel Di Martino   Over 1,900 local governments received $553 million from the Department of Interior this year to compensate them for lost tax revenue for federal lands that cannot be developed in their territory. These payments are the consequence of more than 640 million acres of land, which amounts to 28 percent of…

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