Biden administration gives up fight, allows energy leases on federal land

The Biden administration relented on Friday and said it would resume plans for energy exploration on federal lands after an appeals court decision. 

The move came after an appeals court allowed the administration to use what Bloomberg called “a revamped metric to calculating the potential cost to society of greenhouse gas emissions.”

“With this ruling, the Department continues its planning for responsible oil and gas development on America’s public lands and waters,” said Interior Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz. \

“Calculating the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions provides important information that has been part of the foundation of the work the Interior Department has undertaken over the past year.”

It’s unclear when the administration would be offering the leases.

However, the Interior Department had paused leases after a federal district judge base in Louisiana barred the administration from using their “social cost of carbon” metric for deciding on new leases.

On Wednesday, however, a federal appeals court in New Orleans signed off on temporary use of the metric, which makes oil and gas exploration more expensive.

“A group of 10 energy-producing states, with the support of a raft of industry trade groups, claimed in their legal challenge that Biden’s formulas would cost the U.S. economy ‘hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars’ and ‘may be the most significant regulatory encroachment upon individual liberty and state sovereignty in American history,'” Bloomberg reported.

However, the Biden administration seemed to be happy enough to move toward reinstating leases, given record gas prices.

Biden himself has said that U.S. energy companies could be producing more gas, saying on March 8 that “they could be drilling right now,” claiming energy companies had leased federal land they weren’t using.

However, energy companies said that new production takes time.

“New production takes time,” said Samantha Gross, director of the Energy Security and Climate Initiative.

“For in-fill shale oil or gas wells in areas that are already being developed, you might get some new drilling and production in a matter of months. Any new leases would take years to produce.”

“This won’t be quick.”

That said, the move will likely spur lower gas prices in the long run — and represents a major capitulation on the Biden administration’s part.