Biden Administration Suspends Federal Oil And Gas Drilling Permitting
US President Joe Biden has suspended all new federal oil and gas permits, as per a memo from the Department of Interior.
The suspension will last for 60 days, and comes as part of Biden’s wider plan to combat climate change by banning all new federal drilling permits and leasing of publicly-owned energy reserves.
It came into effect on Wednesday, January 20, after being signed by acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega, as part of Biden’s sweeping first day in power. He aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
As per Reuters, the suspension also includes blocks on new mining plans, issuing fossil fuel authorisations, revising land management plans, land sales or exchanges and the hiring of senior-level staff at the agency.
However, certain approvals may be permitted by specific senior officials, and the new order doesn’t affect existing operations.
Jesse Prentice-Dunn, the policy director for the Center for Western Priorities, wrote in a press release: ‘For four years, the Trump administration cut legal corners and rushed through massive drilling and mining projects at the behest of corporations.’
She continued: ‘Now the Biden administration is rightfully attempting to take stock of the damage and make sure the agency is following the law, instead of rubber-stamping destructive projects that were in the pipeline.’
Prentice-Dunn added: ‘Once Deb Haaland is confirmed as interior secretary, she’ll be able to take long-term actions to make sure the interior department prioritises communities and conservation, not extractive industry lobbyists.’
In an earlier debate with Trump, Biden said: ‘I would transition from the oil industry, yes. It’s a big statement because the oil industry pollutes significantly… it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time.’
American Petroleum Institute (API) and Western Energy Alliance have criticised the move, saying in a statement: ‘With this move, the administration is leading us toward more reliance on foreign energy from countries with lower environmental standards and risks to hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in government revenue for education and conservation programs.’
API’s president and CEO Mike Sommers added, as per The Hill: ‘We stand ready to engage with the Biden administration on ways to address America’s energy challenges, but impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery.’
It’s estimated that federal lands and waters account for around 25% of the country’s crude oil output, both critical to energy output but also the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
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