The Biden administration announced Friday that it would resume lease sales for oil and gas drilling on federal land, though it plans to reduce the amount of land available significantly and will increase the royalty it charges companies for the oil and gas produced on the land.
The Interior Department said in a news release that it will make available 144,000 acres, an 80% reduction from the acreage originally nominated. It will also begin charging companies royalties of 18.75%, up from 12.5%.
The move brings the administration into compliance with a court order but comes as President Joe Biden has sought to encourage domestic production of oil and gas to tame soaring energy prices, especially gas prices above $4 a gallon, that have cut into support for his party before the midterm elections.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland called the new plans a “reset” of the leasing program that was overdue.
“For too long, the federal oil and gas leasing programs have prioritized the wants of extractive industries above local communities, the natural environment, the impact on our air and water, the needs of Tribal Nations, and, moreover, other uses of our shared public lands,” she said.