Biden Admin Moves To Ban New Oil Leases On 1.6 Million Acres Of Land

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a Thursday proposal that would ban new oil leasing on about 1.6 million acres of land in Colorado, according to E&E News.

The proposal is part of wider initiative of the federal government to settle litigation with environmentalist groups who have pursued legal challenges against the government’s land use policies, according to E&E News. If finalized, the proposal could decrease the estimated number of oil wells in the affected lands by 600 over the next two decades, according to E&E News.

The proposal would also designate nine zones of BLM-owned land as “areas of critical environmental concern,” amounting to over 100,000 acres in the state, according to E&E News. Colorado is responsible for 4% of U.S. domestic crude oil production and is the fifth largest crude oil-producing state in the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Other than to settle legal disputes with green groups, BLM is also seeking to pare back new leasing activity in the state in order to protect sites that are culturally significant to Native American tribes living in the region, according to E&E News. Reducing resource extraction from tribal lands has been a prerogative of the Biden administration’s land use policy, but some tribes have pushed back against the administration because they rely on revenues from practices like mining and drilling.

BLM’s proposal follows the Biden administration’s decision to settle a legal dispute with green activists who had contested the administration’s approval of offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. That settlement will lead to the government to restrict oil and gas leasing in an area of about 11 million acres.

BLM is also pushing forward with a new land use rule proposal that could fundamentally alter the bidding process for many of the 245 million acres under BLM control by providing conservation equal footing to economically productive land uses, according to E&E News.

President Joe Biden campaigned on a promise to eliminate federal drilling projects on federal lands, according to E&E News. Biden also delivered a “guarantee” as a candidate in 2019 that his administration would “end fossil fuels.”

The proposal is expected to be published in the Federal Register at some point Friday, according to E&E News.

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