U.S. Interior to weigh greenhouse gas emissions of proposed 2022 oil lease sales

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WASHINGTON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management on Friday said it will analyze the climate impacts of proposed oil and gas lease sales that have been scheduled for early 2022 and seek public feedback.

The BLM, which manages 245 million acres of public land in 12 western states, said its state offices will issue for the first time environmental assessments that factor in the social cost of greenhouse gases associated with the development of those acres.

These reports could lead to some leases being removed from consideration or deferred depending on the public comments received.

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"The BLM is committed to responsible development on public lands, including ensuring that our environmental reviews consider the climate impacts of energy development on lands and communities," said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning, who was recently confirmed by the Senate.

The agency will issue the environmental assessments for Colorado, Eastern States, Montana and the Dakotas, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in the coming days.

During the administration of former President Donald Trump, the BLM did not weigh the greenhouse gas emissions impacts of proposed lease sales, leading environmental groups to launch lawsuits that halted some lease sales.

The BLM said it has deferred a number of nominated leases from the 2022 lease sales because there was insufficient environmental analysis in pre-existing supporting documents submitted under the previous administration.

Environmental groups said the announcement was a good first step in addressing the climate impact of federal oil leasing but more needs to be done to overhaul the program.

"The Bureau of Land Management must exercise its authority to refrain from leasing lands and focus on making long-overdue reforms in order to protect our multiple uses and our communities' access to the outdoors," said Angel Pena, executive director of New Mexico environmental group Nuestra Tierra.

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Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Aurora Ellis

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