BILLINGS, Mont. – The Biden administration said Tuesday that it will deliver an interim report on its suspension of oil and gas sales from federal lands and waters by summer, but officials declined to state how long the moratorium could remain in place.
A long-term ban on lease sales from the nation's vast, publicly-owned oil and gas reserves to address climate change would fulfill a campaign pledge from Democratic President Joe Biden.
The prospect has rankled Republicans and petroleum industry representatives, who have said that Biden is putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk as the economy reels from the pandemic.
Oil and gas from federal reserves in western states and the Gulf of Mexico make up about a quarter of U.S. production.
Lease sales to companies for drilling have been a frequent target of lawsuits from environmentalists who contend officials have ignored the oil and gas program's climate impact.
Biden announced a temporary suspension of new sales one week after he took office.
Tuesday's announcement offered the first details of a review of the Interior Department program that officials said will examine climate issues and whether taxpayers are getting a fair return on sales of energy leases to private companies.
Last month, the administration postponed lease sales in the Gulf and four states — Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.