The US Interior Department on Jan. 20 put new oil and gas lease sales and permits on federal lands and waters on hold for 60 days, according to an order signed by Acting Secretary Scott de la Vega.The decision gives the Biden administration more time to develop its longer-term plans on oil and gas leases that could involve a broader ban. The order does not impact drilling and activity on existing leases and permits.
The moratorium is for 60 days from Jan. 20 and would presumably provide a window for Biden's Interior secretary nominee. The 60-day moratorium could lead into a much broader ban on new federal oil and gas leases and permits.The biggest oil and gas producers have ample acreage and reserves to work from if new leases remain banned for some time, but smaller and mid-sized companies would bear more of a brunt from the reduced access.
A moratorium on new leasing was a Biden campaign pledge, but in a slew of more than 15 executive orders signed on Inauguration Day, the only temporary leasing moratorium signed by Biden applied to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. However, within the Interior Department, de la Vega quietly signed the nationwide, 60-day moratorium.