Feds outline plans to move forward with Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico

A sale notice for Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico will likely be published in the Federal Register this month, under plans outlined for the resumption of the federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing program.

In late August, the United States appealed the preliminary injunction entered by the district court in Louisiana v. Biden, which enjoined the Department of the Interior from implementing the pause in new federal oil and gas leasing as set forth in Section 208 of Executive Order 14008. The federal onshore and offshore oil and gas leasing program will continue as required by the district court while the government’s appeal is pending.

In a brief in the case outlining how the Interior Department will comply with the preliminary injunction, the Department of Justice noted the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management would take the necessary steps for Lease Sale 257. This fall, BOEM also will issue and take comments on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement analyzing Lease Sale 258 in Cook Inlet.

The Bureau of Land Management state offices will also begin a 30-day scoping period for parcels included in Q1 and Q2 2021 leasing deferrals, followed by environmental reviews of parcels for potential leasing. Following this review, state offices will identify any eligible parcels and applicable stipulations in lease sale notices posted later this year.

Meanwhile, the Interior Department continues to review what it considers the programs’ noted shortcomings, including completing a report. The department also will undertake a programmatic analysis to address what changes in the department’s programs may be necessary to meet targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Scott Angelle, former director of the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement under former President Donald Trump, called the announcement a “win for the USA, a win for energy consumers, a win for U.S. energy workers, and a win for the environment.”

The former lieutenant governor and secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources in Louisiana cautioned, however, that there is “more work to do to make Lease Sale 257 a reality.”

“The Department of Interior has not yet scheduled or indicated they are performing any work towards holding Gulf of Mexico Lease Sales 259 and 261, which are part of the current five-year plan,” he tells 10/12 Industry Report. “Similarly, the Department of Interior is not doing any of the work necessary to advance a new five-year plan while the current plan is expiring next June. It is important for America that this administration timely develops the legally-required five-year plan.”