Jan 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Biden's opening move against federal lands drilling

Data: BloombergNEF; Note: 2020 reflects the average through September; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The first phase of the Biden administration plan to thwart new oil and natural gas permitting on federal lands has arrived.

Driving the news: An Interior Department order Thursday imposes a 60-day freeze on new drilling permits, leases, lease extensions and other actions, though it "does not limit existing operations."

Why it matters: Oil production on federal lands is a smaller share of domestic output than it was before the fracking boom that's centered more on private lands.

The big picture: The temporary order comes ahead of what's expected to be a wider effort to limit new development, given that Biden's platform called for "banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters."

  • But that said, it's still quite significant.

Yes, but: The effects of these policies could be limited in the near-term because many companies have a large inventory of existing permits.

  • A new Goldman Sachs note says several oil-and-gas producers with the most exposure to federal lands "have indicated they have 3-4 years of inventory already permitted."
Go deeper