WASHINGTON — The Interior Department will make significant steps toward restarting its leasing programs for onshore and offshore oil and gas development in the coming months, the Biden administration said in a court filing Tuesday.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management anticipates holding a sale for offshore leases in October or November, the administration said.
The Bureau of Land Management, which handles onshore leases, would need longer, according to the court filing. The agency will publish parcel lists for upcoming sales by the end of this month, with a notice of sale to be published in December. The sale itself would then occur 30 days later.
The department has been readying lease sales since June 15 when U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty ordered it to end the pause on new oil and gas leases President Joe Biden put into place in his first week in office.
The plaintiffs in the case, a group of Republican state attorneys general led by Louisiana’s Jeff Landry, had complained to Doughty that the federal government was not complying with his order to restart its leasing programs.
In a Tuesday news release, Interior said it would take into account “the programs’ documented deficiencies.”
A similar statement gave some conservation advocates the impression that the department would operate a scaled-back version of the leasing program until the administration conducts a full overhaul.
The department is also expected to release a report shortly on the leasing programs, including recommendations for how to reform them to meet Biden’s climate change goals.