Written by Matthew Daly The Associated Press
Washington – President Joe Biden is set to announce a widespread moratorium on new oil and gas leases in US land and waters, as his administration moves quickly to reverse the Trump administration’s policies on energy, the environment, and tackling climate change.
The drilling suspension is among several climate measures Biden will outline on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with his plans who spoke on condition of anonymity prior to the announcement.
Biden will also likely direct officials to conserve 30% of the nation’s land and ocean water in the next 10 years, initiating a series of regulatory actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and raise climate change to a national security priority. Conservation plan, Similar to the legislation introduced in 2019 by US Senator Michael BennettMillions of acres will be earmarked for recreation, wildlife, and climate efforts by 2030, as part of the Biden campaign pledge to the $ 2 trillion program to slow global warming.
More: A bold plan to protect 30% of Colorado’s land and waters by 2030
Biden will direct all US agencies to use science and evidence-based decision-making in federal rule-making and announce the US Climate Leaders Summit on Earth Day, April 22.
It is also expected to establish a White House Office of Environmental Justice to serve low-income communities and minorities that disproportionately suffer from air, water and industrial waste pollution and are often located near hazardous sites such as power plants, landfills and incinerators.
The drilling halt follows a 60-day suspension of new drilling permits for US land and water announced last week, and comes after Biden’s campaign pledged to halt new drilling operations on federally controlled land and waters as part of his plan to tackle climate change. The comment allows officials time to review the environmental and climate impact of oil and gas drilling.
Environmental groups hailed the expected halt as the kind of bold and urgent action needed to slow climate change.
More than that: Joe Biden has halted oil and gas development on public lands divides conservationists and industry
The fossil fuel industry has done enormous damage to the planet. If the management review is done properly, it will show the dirty fracturing and digging operations must end forever, ”said Kiran Sokling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that has pushed to stop drilling.
Oil industry groups criticized the move, saying Biden had already cut thousands of oil and gas jobs by killing the Keystone XL oil pipeline on his first day in office.
“It’s just the beginning.” Brooke Simons, president of the Oklahoma Petroleum Alliance, said, “It will only get worse.” Meanwhile, the laws of physics, chemistry, supply and demand remain in place. Oil and natural gas prices are rising, as are home heating bills, consumer prices and fuel costs. “.
Kathleen Sjamma, chair of the Western Energy Coalition, which represents oil and gas drilling workers in western states, said the expected executive order aims to delay drilling on federal land to the point where it is no longer applicable. Her group has pledged to appeal the matter to the court.
“The environmental left leads the agenda in the White House when it comes to energy and environmental issues,” she said, noting that the moratorium would be more severe in western states such as Utah, Wyoming and North Dakota. Biden lost all three states to former President Donald Trump.
Under Trump, federal agencies have prioritized energy development and relaxed environmental rules to speed up drilling permits as part of a Republican goal to boost fossil fuel production. Trump has consistently downplayed the risks of climate change.
On his first day in office last Wednesday, Biden signed a series of executive orders that underscored his different approach – re-joining the Paris climate accord, revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and telling agencies to immediately review dozens of Trump-era rules. In science, environment and public health.
More: Read more environmental coverage from The Colorado Sun.
The Interior Ministry’s 60-day suspension order did not limit current oil and gas operations under valid leases, which means activity will not suddenly stop on millions of acres of land in the west and the sea in the Gulf of Mexico where so much is concentrated drilling. It is also unlikely that the moratorium will affect existing leases. His influence could be diminished further by companies that stocked up enough drilling permits in recent months for Trump to allow them to continue pumping oil and gas for years.
The halt on onshore exploration is restricted to federal lands and does not affect drilling in private lands, which are largely regulated by states.
Oil and gas extracted from land and public waters accounts for about a quarter of annual US production. The US Geological Survey said in a 2018 study that extracting and burning this fuel generates approximately 550 million tons (500 million metric tons) of greenhouse gases annually.
Under Trump, Home Office officials approved nearly 1,400 permits on federal soil, primarily in Wyoming and New Mexico, over a three-month period that included elections, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. The permits, which remain in place, would allow companies to continue drilling for years, potentially undermining Biden’s climate agenda.
The lease suspension could present a political dilemma for Biden in New Mexico, the democratically leaning country that has seen an oil production boom in recent years, mostly on federal soil. Biden was chosen to lead the Home Office, which oversees oil and gas leasing in public lands, is New Mexico’s Rep. Deep Haaland. If confirmed, it would be the first Native American to lead the agency overseeing relationships with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes.
Haaland, whose hearing has been postponed to confirm until next month, is already facing a backlash from some Republicans who say the expected oil production cuts under Biden will hurt her mandate.
Ternan Seettenfeld, a senior conservation voter association official, called this criticism off the base. “The truth is we need to go to 100% clean energy” in order to tackle climate change, she said Tuesday. “The clean energy economy in New Mexico is booming,” Sittenfield added, referring to the gains made in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Rob Black, president of the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce, said the anticipated halt would be “devastating” for his state while failing to reduce carbon emissions in the Southwest.
Black said the lease suspension “will not reduce oil demand,” but will move production from federal lands to private lands in New Mexico and Texas, where an oil boom is occurring in the Permian Basin. Only 2% of the land in Texas is under federal control, compared to about a third in New Mexico.
The Biden administration has pledged to spend billions to help move away from fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. Biden said creating thousands of clean energy jobs is a top priority.