“We had Trump’s unconstrained approach to oil and gas on federal lands and Biden’s early attempt to pause drilling. Now it looks like the Biden administration is trying to find a new policy,” said researcher Robert Johnston with Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

The U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday will auction vast oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico estimated to hold up to 1.1 billion barrels of crude, after a federal judge in a lawsuit brought by Republican states rejected a suspension of fossil fuel sales that President Joe Biden imposed when he took office, AP reports.

The sale is the first under Biden and a harbinger of the challenges he faces to reach climate goals that depend on deep cuts in fossil fuel emissions.

The livestreamed sale invited energy companies to bid on drilling leases across some 136,000 square miles (352,000 square kilometers) — about twice the area of Florida.

It will take years to develop the leases before companies start pumping crude. That means they could keep producing long past 2030, when scientists say the world needs to be well on the way to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change.

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