Interior to move forward with lease sales after pause
While the administration appeals, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) will submit a decision by the end of this month on a specific offshore lease sale that was canceled in February, several months before a court issued a hold on the leasing freeze, the department said.
The department projected the notice for Lease Sale 257 will be published at some point in September but noted that federal law requires the lease sale to take place at least 30 days after the publication of the sale notice.
The Bureau of Land Management, meanwhile, will post information on two land parcels for potential leasing after deferring the sales in the first two quarters of 2021. BLM will conduct environmental reviews for the parcels after a 30-day scoping period, according to the department.
“In complying with the district court’s injunction, the Interior Department will continue to exercise the authority and discretion provided under law to conduct leasing in a manner that fulfills Interior’s legal responsibilities, including to take into account the programs’ documented deficiencies,” the department said in a statement.
The department also noted it will continue reviewing what it believes to be shortcomings of the existing leasing program. This includes identifying any changes that will be necessary to meet the administration’s goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
Two weeks ago, several Republican-led states submitted a court filing accusing the administration of violating the June injunction and asked the court to compel it to resume offshore drilling lease sales. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has said the administration is cooperating with the order and cited logistical hurdles.
“We are complying with the court order right now. As we speak, the department is working. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of work that goes into even having a lease sale and so they are complying with the court order,” Haaland said in July testimony.