The Interior Department is moving forward with the first onshore sales of public oil and gas drilling leases under President Joe Biden, but will sharply increase royalty rates for companies that extract oil.
Friday's announcement comes as federal officials weigh efforts to fight climate change against pressure to bring down high gas prices. The royalty rate for new leases will increase to 18.75% from 12.5%.
That's a 50% jump and marks the first increase since the 1920s. Republicans want Biden to expand U.S. crude production. But he faces calls from within his own party to do more to curb fossil fuel emissions that are heating the planet.
Leases for 225 square miles of federal lands mostly in the U.S. West will be offered up for sale in notices to be posted Monday.
Related sales notices are set to cover leasing decisions in at least nine states including, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Alabama, Montana, Oklahoma and North Dakota.