The moratorium on new leases would fulfill a campaign promise by Biden. When issued, the halt on new leases will apply to federal land and water areas, but will not affect existing leases. It will expand an existing 60-day moratorium issued by Biden on his first day in office.
Biden is also expected to take action on protecting 30% of the country’s land and water by 2030, known as “30 by 30.”
The moratorium “gives the country a chance to modernize the way we deploy our natural resources for developing energy,” said Josh Axelrod of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We can’t lock our children and grandchildren into decades more of the dirty fossil fuels of the past, and all the hazards and harms they bring to our public lands, oceans and coastal communities.”
Biden had said on the campaign trail that he wanted to halt new oil and gas drilling on federal lands. And he had also said at a September CNN town hall that he supports the continued the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to open underground natural gas formations to cleaner kinds of energy.
Since last week’s swearing-in, the President has sought to highlight how his administration will take science more seriously than the past administration did.
On climate, Biden created two new roles — a new Cabinet-level presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, and a White House climate czar, Gina McCarthy.
But more broadly, Biden has moved to put more scientists front-and-center.
The administration has told reporters to expect more briefings by scientists and public health experts, not political appointees and the President, to explain the ongoing efforts to combat Covid-19. And the administration has also moved to elevate the job of Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to the Cabinet level.
CNN’s Gregory Wallace, Betsy Klein, Kevin Liptak, Kristen Holmes and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.