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Biden to impose moratorium on new oil, gas leasing on federal lands

Oil rig pumpjacks, also known as thirsty birds, extract crude from an oil deposits area.
Oil rig pumpjacks, also known as thirsty birds, extract crude from an oil deposits area.

WASHINGTON, DC -- President Joe Biden this week will impose a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, both the Washington Post and the New York Times reported Tuesday morning citing administration insiders who have been briefed on the draft of the plan.

The moratorium's announcement, which is expected on Wednesday, comes just a week after Biden paused any new oil drilling permits on public land for 60-days.

The new moratorium would not affect existing leases, officials indicated to the newspapers, meaning current drilling could continue on federal land in New Mexico, Texas and elsewhere.

The move is in keeping with one of Biden's top pledges of his election campaign to battle climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, which he is expected to cite as a national security risk.

It's also among a series of quick actions being taken by the Biden White House to reverse Trump administration policies, which had eased environmental rules to speed up drilling permits in an effort to boost fossil fuel production.

Other environmental reversals by the Biden administration thus far have included rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

The moratorium announcement is anticipated to draw fierce opposition from Republicans and some energy industry groups, who have argued that limiting access to publicly-owned energy resources will lead to more foreign oil imports and lost jobs.

It will also trigger concerns in the state of New Mexico about lower tax revenues, potentially impacting spending on education and other public programs. As previously reported on, half of New Mexico’s oil production happens on federal land and amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties each year.

However, the Associated Press reported recently that under Trump, officials approved almost 1,400 permits on federal lands, primarily in New Mexico, over a three-month period that included the election.

Those permits, which would remain valid, could allow companies to continue drilling for years, potentially undercutting some of the Biden moratorium's impact.

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Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the former Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.


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