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Oil and gas companies have been less than excited to bid on onshore leases in a handful of states but environmental groups would prefer if they didn't lay claim to those spots at all.

At the behest of a federal judge, the Biden administration moved forward with a limited amount of onshore oil and gas lease auctions on Wednesday and Thursday, albeit with a less than enthusiastic response from the fossil fuel industry.

Part of that may come from the fact that royalty rates rose for the first time in nearly a century, increasing from 12.5% to 18.75%. The sales encompass eight states—Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming—and span a total of 128,510 acres. Also coinciding with the auctions? The filing of a lawsuit by environmental groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and others urging the Biden administration to abandon leasing on public lands altogether.

“Overwhelming scientific evidence shows us that burning fossil fuels from existing leases on federal lands is incompatible with a livable climate,” Melissa Hornbein, senior attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, said in a statement. “In spite of this administration's climate commitments, the Department of the Interior is choosing to resume oil and gas leasing. The very least the BLM could do is acknowledge the connected nature of these six lease sales and their collective impact on federal lands and the earth’s climate. Its failure to do so is an attempt to water down the climate effects of their decision to continue leasing and is a clear abdication of its responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act.” The Western Environmental Law Center is representing the plaintiffs, which include 10 groups.

In addition to challenging that federal agencies have failed in their duties under the National Environmental Protection Act, the groups contend that the Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management failed to prevent “permanent impairment” and “unnecessary or undue degradation” as noted in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act by allowing polluters to continue destroy public lands through oil and gas exploration and development. Continued pursuit of this damaging sector isn’t even helping anyone: A study all the way back from 2017 found that onshore operations resulted in an uptick in emissions, water usage, and concerns over water contamination—to say nothing of the damage wrought by abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells. The Biden administration’s inability to act in this situation has certainly led to concern from anyone working to fight climate change. Their implicit unwillingness to act may also be benefitting those of us concerned with reaching net-zero.

Thursday marked the last day a five-year oil and gas offshore leasing plan was still in effect for the Interior Department. Now that it’s Friday, the Interior Department is utterly unable to offer any new offshore leases. In fact, given how long it takes for a proposed plan to make it from draft to being implemented, we may not see whatever five-year plan take effect until next year. If this is a deliberate action to force the end of offshore activity, it’s a welcomed one. According to a recent analysis from EarthJustice, eliminating new offshore oil and gas projects will do little to gas prices, nor will they harm the economy or employment. The report pushes back against claims by the American Petroleum Institute that no new five-year plan would signify disaster for the U.S. If the country can clearly do fine without adding more polluters to the mix, perhaps it’s time for the Biden administration to sunset all oil and gas production as the U.S. seeks to reach net-zero by 2050. After all, it’s not the president’s fault that greedy fossil fuel companies want to financially harm Americans at the pump. But lawmakers have proven there are mechanisms to go after them and it’s high time we do so.

Friday, Jul 1, 2022 · 9:09:27 PM +00:00 · April Siese

The Interior Department finally released draft guidance on Friday afternoon. Being that this is for a new five-year offshore leasing plan, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to hold four virtual meetings for public comment in August. Those dates are Aug. 23, Aug. 25, Aug. 29, and Aug. 31. The plan is in a public comment period and won’t be implemented for months, meaning no new leases will be auctioned off in the interim.

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GOP Senator pushes misleading claims about Democratic agenda

United States Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida) on Saturday blamed Democrats for economic woes such as inflation and rising rents.

"When you think about a typical senior in Florida, they're either on a fixed income or getting ready to retire. So in the last year and a half, what's happened?" Scott mused at a press conference. "Gas prices have skyrocketed, food prices have skyrocketed, rent is up. All of these things caused by the Democrats, so clearly they don't care about seniors in Florida. Now the latest bill is gonna cut Medicare. Democrats say, 'oh, they would never do that.' Let me just read you a quote by Joe Biden."

Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against legislation to bring down costs for consumers.

READ MORE: 'The absolute worst excuse': Kevin McCarthy roasted for blaming gas prices on the January 6th investigation

Scott read something that Biden said – in 1995:

When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security. As well, I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans benefits. I mean every single solitary thing in the government.

Scott then falsely stated that Democrats are going to cut Medicare.

"This is Joe Biden. This is what they're doing. I mean, they're actually doing what they said they would do. They're actually cutting, what, $280 billion out of the Medicare budget and not putting it back in to try to make it more solvent," Scott said.

Democrats are actually trying to save the program money by allowing it to negotiate prescription drug prices.

"So what we've gotta do is we've gotta figure out why the Democrats are doing this. I have asked for the Aging Committee, of which I am a member, to hold a hearing. Why do the democrats have this war on seniors in Florida? Why do they not care about gas prices? Food prices? This new bill – the burden on every pay scale is going up. The tax burden is going up. I mean this just doesn't make any sense and it's hurting seniors all across my state," Scott added.

READ MORE: GOP Senator introduces dark right-wing blueprint for the future

Scott, who authored a manifesto that called for everybody to have "skin in the game" which his Senate colleagues panned, again is not telling the truth. The Inflation Reduction Act only increases taxes on Americans making at least $400,000 per year.

Watch below or at this link.

\[email protected]: "In the last year and a half [...] gas prices have skyrocketed, food prices have skyrocketed, rent is up. All of these things caused by the Democrats, so clearly they don't care about seniors in Florida."\u201d — The Hill (@The Hill) 1659814260

READ MORE: Kyrsten Sinema will 'move forward' in support of Inflation Reduction Act

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