Joe Biden said in a primary debate on the eve of the 2020 election that he supported “there is no new hydraulic fracturing,” which caused a great chaos. The then President Donald Trump’s campaign was based on this sentence, accusing his Democratic opponents of wanting to abolish fossil fuels and kill jobs. But Biden’s plan to restrict oil and gas production has been narrow.His debating speech was a slip of the tongue for the candidate at the time. He actually wanted to say that he Aims to prohibit the acquisition of new oil and gas permits on public lands and waters, Only occupy area Account for 6% and 8% of total U.S. oil and gas production, Respectively.
Since Biden took office, even the tentative steps towards a fossil-fuel-free future have proven difficult. The new president quickly announced the suspension of the sale of drilling leases, while the Ministry of the Interior reviewed the federal oil and gas plan. But at the same time, Biden’s Interior Department has been quickly approving drilling permits for previously sold leases.It approved more than Obtained 2,100 permits in his first six monthsAccording to the Associated Press, for most of Trump’s presidency, this rate exceeded monthly approvals.
The lease suspension was also attacked in March, when Republican attorneys general from 14 states sued Biden, claiming that lease sales were authorized by Congress. In June, a federal judge in Louisiana sided with them. Issue a ban against Biden’s suspension.
This week, the Ministry of the Interior Announced that it would appeal the decision, While also restoring the lease in accordance with it. But what will happen next is an open question.
On the one hand, it is not clear whether the lifting of the suspension means that the government will soon start selling leases.The oil and gas industry and the state in which the lawsuit is filed believe that the Department of the Interior is The law requires quarterly lease sales Used for onshore drilling. But Kyle Tisdell, a senior attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center, told Grist that the law in question, the Mineral Rights Act, established “significant discretion” for the Ministry of the Interior, “including postponing leases as needed. In order to complete the necessary conditions in determining the value of other resources should be prioritized, do not lease land.”
In Tuesday’s announcement, the Ministry of the Interior recognized this discretion and said it would not rush to sell leases. “Interior will continue to exercise the power and discretion provided by the law to lease in a manner that takes into account the many shortcomings of the plan,” it said.
The statement listed many issues with the leasing program, including failure to consider the impact of drilling on the climate or not including the cost of climate change in royalties.Past evaluations of the plan have found that it often sells drilling rights for less than US$2 per acre, allowing the company to Sit for rent Up to 10 years and only produces Part of income Royalties for drilling on state-owned or private land. The department also pointed out its poor record in consulting affected communities and its responsibility to balance its obligations under the Mineral Rights Act with other uses of public land, such as wildlife protection and protection of historical and cultural resources.
An analyst Tell E&E News The statement issued a “provocative tone” and “reinforces our expectation that the Biden administration will find other ways to suspend leases.”
In addition to how the Ministry of the Interior will conduct lease sales, another unknown is how long it will take for the agency to complete its review of the plan. It was supposed to release an interim report on its preliminary findings earlier this summer, but this has not happened yet. A spokesperson for the agency told Grist that it has no new deadline or estimated completion time.The report is Hope to provide suggestions For the agency and Congress “improve the management of public land and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future.”
At the same time, other recent developments at the federal level marked a slight shift to stricter fossil fuel regulations.On Thursday, the U.S. District Court Judge Abandoning key permits for major oil drilling projects Due to flaws in the environmental review conducted by the Trump administration, including estimates of greenhouse gas emissions, in Alaska.Also on Thursday, the Ministry of the Interior issued a long-awaited announcement that will Review its coal mining rights lease plan On federal land. The review was originally ordered by the Obama administration at the end of his presidency, but Trump quickly stopped the review after he took office. The agency does not intend to suspend leases while conducting reviews, as it did with oil and gas.