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Greenhouse gas emissions will now be a part of oil and gas lease environmental reviews

A photo of an oil pump into front of a sunset background.
The majority of crude oil produced in Utah comes from the Uinta Basin, which is primarily located in Uintah and Duchesne counties.

The Bureau of Land Management announced Friday it will now analyze greenhouse gas emissions, as well as their “social cost,” when doing environmental reviews for new oil and gas lease sales.

Fossil fuel extraction accounts for about a quarter of the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions. Utah has the fourth most oil and gas leases on federal lands out of all 50 states.

There are six parcels in Utah, located in Emery, Uintah and Grand counties, currently being reviewed for sales early next year. They will go through this new process looking at emissions.

“It is a big deal,” said Landon Newell, an attorney for the conservation group Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “It's the agency finally recognizing the enormity of its oil and gas leasing program and how significant[ly] that impacts our climate. And hopefully the agency uses this report to conclude that no new fossil fuel leasing is required if we hope to avoid the worst outcomes of a changing climate.”

The Biden Administration halted all new oil and gas leases earlier this year but that rule was struck down in court.

“The BLM is committed to responsible development on public lands,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement, “including ensuring that our environmental reviews consider the climate impacts of energy development on lands and communities.”

The Utah Petroleum Association did not respond to a request for comment.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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