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After a court halts drilling sales, Energy & Environment Interior is in hot seats

After a court halts drilling sales, Energy & Environment Interior is in hot seats

Energy & Environment Interior in hot seat after court halts drilling sale

Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Environment & Energy,Your source for the most recent news on energy, the environment, and beyond. Subscribe here

Today, we will be looking at the Biden administration’s crossroads following a court order halting drilling lease sales. The EPA is asking the Postal Service reconsider its gas-powered car order. Senators from New England are calling for more study on offshore wind.

Rachel Frazin, Zack Budryk and I are The Hill’s editors. Send us your tips: Follow us on twitter: @RachelFrazin @BudrykZack.

Let’s get started.

Interior under pressure after drilling sale nixed

The Interior Department is under pressure both from the fossil fuel industry as well as environmentalists, over an assessment of an off-shore drilling lease sale that was first approved by the Trump administration.

The Biden administration won by cancelling the offshore lease in Gulf of Mexico by a federal court. But, now it is up to the Interior Department to decide how to proceed.

The agency must decide whether to cancel, modify or keep the sale. It cannot blame Trump-era calculations for the outcome.

This is the story so far This latest development is part of a long line of court challenges to this particular lease sale for offshore drilling.

The original approval for the lease sale, Lease Sale 257, came at the end of former President Trump‘s tenure. After a June ruling against the Biden administration’s pause on new oil-and gas leasing, the Biden administration executed it.

Judge Rudolph Contreras was appointed by Obama to invalidate the sale and the leases that were won during it. He stated that the assessment of the Trump administration had failed to account how the sale would alter global fossil fuel demand, potentially causing climate change.

What does this mean for the government? Contreras gave the Biden Administration a lot of flexibility in his decision. He wrote that he would “vacate Lease Sale 257 and allow the agency to rectify its… error as it pleases in the first instance.”

“The Court doesn’t specify how BOEM must accomplish this, on what timeline or what final conclusion it must reach,” he said, referring specifically to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Continue reading to learn more about this ongoing story.


The Environmental Protection Agency and White House Council on Environmental Quality questioned the U.S. on Wednesday. The Postal Service is asking for reconsideration of plans to purchase a predominantly-gas-powered fleet of up 165,000 trucks.

In letters to PostmasterGeneral Louis DeJoySourced by The Hill, Vicki Arroyo, EPA Associate Administrator for Policy Vicki and the CEQ Chair Brenda MalloryIt should be noted that the USPS fleet ranks among the top federal fleets.

What’s the problem with this? Trump appointee DeJoy was a long-time donor to the president. He approved the current plan for vehicle purchase, which only requires one-tenth the new Postal Service trucks be electric. Oshkosh is the USPS vehicle contract recipient. It is estimated that Oshkosh will reduce fuel consumption by 18% and use approximately 110 million tonnes of gasoline annually.

Arroyo wrote, “The Postal Service proposal as currently written represents a crucial missed opportunity to more quickly reduce the carbon footprints of one of largest government fleets worldwide.” “A ten percent commitment to clean vehicles with virtually no fuel efficiency gains in the other 90 per cent is clearly inconsistent with international, state, and national GHG emissions reduction targets as well as specific national policies that move with deliberate speed towards clean, zero-emitting cars.[.]”

Find out more about the letters.

Senators request economic impact study

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)

Sen. Angus King(I-Maine), led a group of all senators from the Gulf of Maine, who wrote Wednesday to ask the Biden Administration to conduct thorough research into the potential impact of offshore wind power projects on local economies.

Sens. joined King on the bipartisan Letter. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen(D.N.H. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

“We recognize that our states have the potential to produce significant clean, sustainable energy and to harbour a new industry through responsible development of offshore winds off our shores,” wrote Senators in a letter to Director Amanda Lefton of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

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They added that BOEM should conduct additional outreach and research to inform its planning process before it conducts lease sales and to improve its ability to assess, predict and monitor the potential environmental impacts of offshore Wind in the Gulf of Maine.”

Senators noted that there were “additional gaps” in data regarding the economic impact of offshore development plans. This led them to call for “regionally-specific research” into these effects.

The Biden administration set a goal to have 30 gigawatts of offshore power available by 2030. There are also plans for larger leases along the east and western coasts of the Gulf of Maine and Gulf of Mexico. Interior Secretary Deb HaalandIn October, the department stated that it could have seven offshore wind lease sales by 2025. Only two U.S. offshore wind farms are currently in operation, with 42 megawatts of capacity.

Learn more about the letter by clicking here


  • Texas is in the midst of a winter storm. Here’s what this means for the power grid. (The Texas Tribune)

  • U.S. will list Nevada flower as endangered and deal blow to lithium mine (Reuters)

  • Climate campaigners react to Europe’s plan of calling natural gas “sustainable”.CNN)

  • Biden admin. Bets on renewable energy in Puerto Rico to improve the electric systemNBC)

And last but not least, something totally offbeat, but ON-beat IIs there any other NFT these days than this?

This is it for today. Thanks for reading. Check out The Hill. Energy & Environment PageGet the latest news and coverage. We will see you tomorrow.

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