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U.S. takes step toward oil and gas auction off Alaska coast next year -Breaking


© Reuters. Downtown Anchorage is located on the coast plane that runs between Cook Inlet, Alaska and the Chugach Mountains. June 24, 2015, Anchorage. REUTERS/Mark Meyer/Files

(Reuters) – The Biden administration took a formal step Friday towards holding an auction to sell oil and gas drilling rights at the Cook Inlet, Alaska’s coast next year.

This is the U.S. Department of Interior’s latest attempt to follow a court order that oil and gas leasing sales be resumed. President Joe Biden had halted the sale shortly after taking office in January.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of Interior said that it will launch a period of public comments for the draft environmental analysis of the sale. According to the Department of Interior, the comments will be used by the agency in deciding whether to sell the lease.

Biden suspended drilling auctions from January in order to analyze their impact on the environment, and how they would benefit taxpayers. However, in June, a Louisiana federal judge ordered that auctions resume. The judge stated that law requires the government to sell acreage to oil and gas companies.

Next month the administration will sell leases for drilling rights within the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Cook Inlet sale may include 224 blocks that cover more than 1,000,000 acres of federal waters in northern parts of the inlet.

Draft environmental document estimated that the activities related to sale would emit an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to 22 year-long coal-fired power plant emissions during their three-decade-long lifecycle.

If the sale is not completed, it will also project slightly higher energy costs.

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