Colorado oil and gas industry criticizes Biden’s hiatus from drilling on public land as environmental advocates cheer

Environmentalists in the West quickly praised President Joe Biden’s executive order to block new oil and gas leases on federal lands and in federal waters, while the resources sector and local business backers described it as a misguided attack with enormous economic ramifications.

“For a very long time, federal lands in Colorado have been leased to major polluters for a fraction of a dollar – often with disastrous long-term consequences for our climate and our societies,” said Kelly Nordini, Conservation Colorado executive director in a statement. “President Biden has ordered a halt to this long-overdue practice.”

The orders aim to cut emissions from oil, gas and coal to help slow some of the worst effects of climate change. But industry and local officials said in interviews and statements that disrupting activity on federal lands, which produces a large portion of oil and gas in the United States and a higher concentration in the West, would devastate employment and cut government budgets.

More: Joe Biden pauses oil and gas sales on public lands, calls for conservation plan backed by Michael Bennett

“Stopping domestic production would be the worst decision that this president could make if he were to lead the effort to combat global climate change,” said Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Group. “The president should visit Colorado, sit down with the men and women who work overtime to develop the resources and products necessary for a modern society safely and who keep the lights on in storefronts and homes across the country.”

Last year the Ministry of the Interior It raised $ 113.7 million in revenue from oil, gas and coal And other natural resources are on Colorado’s federal land, the Colorado Sun reported earlier this week. In fiscal year 2019, the office issued 1,841 new lease contracts, including 62 in Colorado, down from 105 the previous year and a high of 613 in 2001.

Mike Summers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said in a conference call that it was “nothing more than a policy of importing more oil” that would weaken US energy leadership in the world and undermine national security. Summers said the oil and gas industry “shares President Biden’s goal of tackling climate change,” but that leasing and halting exploration would harm the environment, for example, by making it difficult for coal-fired power plants to move to cleaner and cheaper natural sources. Gas.

In that call, the New Mexico Teacher of the Year said halting work in her highly energy-dependent state would cost public schools $ 1.7 billion in funding and eliminate promising jobs. “It’s going to hurt the students,” said Jessica Sanders, president of the Society of Science Educators in New Mexico. She said oil and gas revenues are “essential” for the education of New Mexico students.

The Western Energy Alliance announced it was challenging the new ban in federal court in Wyoming, even before Biden appeared in public on Wednesday to sign the orders.

Biden’s rapidly scheduled actions follow an order from the Home Office in his first week in office to halt new permits for physical exploration on federal lands unless senior department officials approve them. Taken together, the leasing and exploration stops point to significant challenges to the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda that has expanded resource extraction from federal lands.

More: Joe Biden’s pause on oil and gas development in public lands divides conservationists and industry advocates

The stops are for new leases and new drilling permits. Oil and gas development companies have thousands of existing leases on federal land and in offshore waters that will not be affected by the downtime. They also have approved permits to explore a large portion of that property. Between 2014 and 2019, BLM received approximately 24,000 federal land lease applications for its oil and gas operations. According to it, approximately 10,000 leases have been approved, but not used Governmental accounting office From March.

governor. Jared Polis referred to those pending rentals and permits in a statement praising Biden’s efforts in preserving the environment, saying that a comprehensive review of the policy in light of climate change was too late and that he welcomed the president “who believes in science.”

Western Slope business leaders said they expect job losses, cuts to school revenue, and other critical sources of funding.

“There is no need to impose a ban to move forward with an agenda to tackle climate change, especially in light of the fact that the demand for energy products will not decrease, so production will move elsewhere, and not stop,” said Grand Junction Area Diane, president of the Chamber of Commerce. Schwenke said in an email. “There is no reason why the policy should not be developed while maintaining the current level of energy activity.”

Actions will have major implications for Debates over conservation and trade in places like North Fork Valley in ColoradoSome leaders in cities such as Hotchkiss, Paonia and Crawford want to prevent new leasing and digging in the interest of expanding their agricultural and tourism economy.

“The issues in North Fork have reached their climax because they relate to the direction this community wants to take and what it sees itself in the future,” said Pete Kulbenschlag, director of the Colorado Ranch and Food Alliance in Bunia. “If I accept that we need to move away from carbon by 2050, we need a plan to do so; pausing helps us talk about this transition. It gives everyone room to breathe.”

It is a wrong choice between the old and the new energy jobs, ‘U.S. Presidential Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry told a White House press conference. Renewable energy sources will create more jobs than when “we were stuck where we were” – for example, Kerry said, the same people who currently build gas-powered cars will build cleaner cars that run on electric power.

Biden signed executive orders on Wednesday to:

  • Temporarily halt “entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or marine waters to the greatest extent possible, launching (processes) a strict review of all current leasing and permitting practices related to the development of fossil fuels in public lands and waters, and identifying (elements)) steps that Can be taken to double production of renewable energy from offshore wind by 2030. ‘
  • Commitment to the goal of preserving at least 30% of our land and oceans by 2030. The order also calls for the creation of the Civil Climate Corps initiative “to put a new generation of Americans to work in preserving and restoring public land and water, and increasing reforestation.”
  • Anchoring climate considerations as a fundamental element of the foreign policy and national security of the United States.
  • Creation of the White House Office of Local Climate Policy – led by the first National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor.
  • Formalizing a “federal commitment to make environmental justice part of each agency’s mission by directing federal agencies to develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.
  • Create an interagency working group on coal communities, power plants and economic recovery, chaired by the National Climate Advisor and Director of the National Economic Council, directing federal agencies to coordinate investments and other efforts to help coal, oil, natural gas communities, and power plants.

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