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Biden administration issues 60 day suspension for federal oil and gas permits

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) – President Joe Biden’s administration has suspended oil and gas permitting on federal lands for the next 60 days.

The temporary ban will likely have a huge impact on the Western United States. A recent study performed by the Wyoming Energy Authority found that eight western states, including Colorado, accounted for 98 percent of federal oil and gas production.

The 60 day pause on federal drilling is welcomed by local advocacy group Western Colorado Alliance.

“It’s very logical that Biden’s administration would want a brief opportunity to review policy and procedures, with an eye to protecting public health and environment,” says Barbara Vazquez, a Jackson County resident and member spokesperson for Western Colorado Alliance.

This new temporary ban will not stop operations of existing wells or sites that already have permits. However, it does pause all leasing and permitting performed by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Western Energy Alliance represents more than 200 natural gas and oil producers in the region. They believe this new temporary ban could have a permanent effect on the economy, particularly in the Western United States.

“We would love to be off federal lands, except that’s where the oil and natural gas is in many places in the west, including the Western Slope of Colorado,” explains Kathleen Sgamma, President of Western Energy Alliance. “Tens of thousands of jobs rely on that oil and natural gas development on federal lands. Jobs and communities that depend on that development are going to be sacrificed.”

Several permitting deadlines are approaching for the Interior Department. Western Energy Alliance says that if drilling permits are not fulfilled once they reach those deadlines, the Biden administration could face a federal lawsuit.

Colorado produces on average the fifth most oil of any state in the country.

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