United States

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The US Interior Department is suggesting that a recent court ruling restoring the department's ability to use a greenhouse gas metric in decision-making allows it to continue “planning for responsible oil and gas development” on federal land and offshore. A ruling issued last week by the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit lets Interior planning move forward, said Interior spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz. But while some press reports and lobby groups say the statements imply Interior will resume leasing activity after months of ambiguity on the subject, the Interior comments themselves do little to resolve lingering questions over the next steps on federal leasing. Key questions left unanswered include whether new lease sales will be held this year, and whether Interior plans to finalize a new five-year leasing plan before the current plan expires in June. One oil lobbyist said the department has been “tight-lipped” about the leasing process. "Frankly, they’re running out of time" to issue a new five-year plan, the lobbyist told Energy Intelligence. Once the current Obama-era leasing plan expires, no more lease sales are planned. There is not much precedent for what happens when there is a gap between five-year plans under the offshore law, the lobbyist said.

Exploration, Offshore Oil and Gas
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