Biden last month ordered the Department of the Interior to halt new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters, pending completion of a complete review.
The department on Friday suspended two sets of lease sales: one on sales prepared for Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming, and another for the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bureau of Land Management was about to offer 383 parcels totaling approximately 483,017 acres across the four states while the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was going to offer about 78.2 million acres in the gulf.
Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, announced after the postponements, “We remain hopeful that the Administration will proceed with the lease sale upon completion of its review.”
The group, which represents the offshore energy industry, said in a different statement that the Department of Interior already finished multiple environmental reviews and particularly considered the climate impacts in 2016 throughout the Obama Administration.
Though Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director with the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit conservation group, said postponing the lease sale “helps protect our climate and life on Earth.”
“President Biden understands the urgent need to keep this oil in the ground,” she said. “This is a great step toward phasing out all offshore drilling and bringing environmental justice to the Gulf Coast and Alaska. We need to help restore coastal communities and marine life.”
Biden’s order to pause leases was tested in court shortly after it was issued, including by the Denver-based Western Energy Alliance.
The alliance called the halt “both arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law” and urged the judge to declare the suspension invalid.
An alliance-commissioned study last year discovered that tax revenue losses under a drilling prohibition would average $2 billion per year across Western states.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, recently ordered state agencies to evaluate the financial impact of Biden’s lease limitation, which he stated was “misguided and destructive.”
"Losing that revenue is devastating to our schools, devastating to our communities, devastating to those small businesses that really depend on the energy sector," Gordon said.
And Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) proposed a bill last month that would restrict the White House from barring new leasing without approval from Congress.
Biden’s team has announced that his order was part of a series of “unprecedented executive actions to drive historic progress” on climate change. The president wishes to put into place an enforcement mechanism to reach net-zero emissions, or balancing emissions with absorption, by 2050.