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U.S. Launches Oil and Gas Lease Sales on the Eve of Climate Summit

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) begins on Tuesday a series of oil and gas lease sales in several Western states in the coming days as the COP28 climate summit in Dubai is set to open on Thursday.

The Biden Administration has to offer lease sales under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) from 2022.

On Tuesday, the BLM is auctioning off 37 parcels covering 35,354 acres in Wyoming, the first of a series of lease sales to take place this week and next. The lease sale in Wyoming is the largest of those on offer in the Western states. Over the next few days, the BLM will also launch lease sales on the online auction platform EnergyNet for tracts in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah.

Environmentalists criticized the oil and gas lease sales, which will coincide with the COP28 climate summit.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of the Interior did not comment for Reuters on the timing of the sales.

Nicole Ghio, senior fossil fuels program manager for Friends of the Earth, said in a statement carried by Reuters,

“Instead of doing the necessary work to fight climate change, Biden continues to support the expansion of fossil fuels here in the U.S.”

Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups also intend to appeal a federal court ruling from early November that the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska’s Western Arctic can proceed. A federal court in Alaska has sided with ConocoPhillips and the BLM in a lawsuit the groups brought in March.

Meanwhile, earlier this month a federal appeals court ordered the federal government to hold an oil and gas lease sale for the Gulf of Mexico within 37 days.

The obligation to sell drilling rights to the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico was a stipulation in the Inflation Reduction Act spearheaded by Senator Joe Manchin in exchange for his support for the IRA and its climate stipulations.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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