Climate report can’t defend leasing pause, industry warns


If the Biden administration cites the Aug. 9 United Nations climate report as evidence to support keeping federal oil and gas leasing on pause, it may not have the law on its side, reports Bloomberg News.

“Until they are able to convince a majority of lawmakers to change the law, they are still bound by the law,” including the Mineral Leasing Act, says Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, which represents oil and gas producers operating on federal land.

The U.N. report, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and ratified by 195 U.N. member countries, represents the scientific consensus that climate change is unequivocally caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from burning fossil fuels. However, the report is insufficient for justifying the lease pause under the Mineral Leasing Act for Interior, says John C. Martin, a partner at Holland & Hart LLP in Wyoming.

The White House ordered the Interior Department in January to “pause” federal oil and gas leasing to allow for a review of the federal leasing program in the context of climate change. A Louisiana federal judge in June said the pause violates the Administrative Procedure Act because Interior offered no reason for canceling 2021 lease sales, and issued a preliminary injunction against it.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in July that the agency is complying with the injunction, but the pause remains in effect. Interior will likely propose a new leasing rule and prepare a draft environmental impact statement on the leasing program, which will take some time, says Mark Squillace, a natural resources law professor at the University of Colorado Law School. Read the entire story.