“A freeze on new federal oil and gas leases could earn goodwill for President Biden among environmentalists, but analysts said such a move likely would have a limited effect on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Several news outlets, including Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, reported yesterday that Biden plans to suspend new oil and gas leases on federal land as part of a broader climate package of executive orders to be issued today.
But experts said it's difficult to determine how much of an impact this step would have on U.S. emissions.
For one, oil and gas companies have stockpiled leases in recent months, meaning major producers could continue drilling new wells irrespective of the new order. A moratorium on new leases also would have no impact on existing oil and gas wells.
An even bigger question is whether Biden could implement a long-term ban without a legislative change to the Mineral Leasing Act, a 100-year-old statute requiring that federal minerals be leased for auction.”