Biden Admin Flips on Climate Change Promise – Allows New Oil And Gas Leases
The Biden Administration last Friday decided to resume leasing sales for oil and gas drilling on federal lands to mitigate rising fuel costs. The decision marks a sharp reversal from Biden’s campaign promise to end new leasing in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The announcement, which comes as Biden’s approval rating hits an all-time low and the average fuel price remains above $4 per gallon, included an 80% reduction in acreage available for lease (this decision was allegedly the result of a “robust environmental review”) and increased royalties for fuel that is produced. The royalty increase – the first of its kind – bumps the percentage producers must pay to the federal government from 12.5% to 18.75%.
“For too long, the federal oil and gas leasing programs have prioritized the wants of extractive industries above local communities, the natural environment, the impact on our air and water, the needs of Tribal Nations, and, moreover, other uses of our shared public lands,” tweeted Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland. “Today, we begin to reset how and what we consider to be the highest and best use of Americans’ resources for the benefit of all current and future generations.”
The American Exploration and Production Council (AXPC), a trade association representing independent oil and natural gas companies, lauded the announcement but urged the Biden Administration to go further: “To really unleash American energy, the Biden Administration should continue to hold ongoing lease sales pursuant to the Mineral Leasing Act, issue permits more expeditiously, and provide consistent regulatory certainty.”
Friday’s announcement was met with extreme backlash from environmentalist groups shocked by Biden’s willingness to violate a major campaign promise.
The renewal of new oil and gas leases on federal lands is “pure climate denial,” tweeted the New Mexico-based environmentalist group WildEarth Guardians. “While the Biden Administration talks a good talk on #climateaction, the reality is they are in bed with the oil and gas industry. Rest assured, with the #climatecrisis raging, we can and will fight back. We can’t afford not to.”
“The Biden Administration’s claim that it must hold these lease sales is pure fiction and a reckless failure of climate leadership,” argues Randi Spivak of the Center for Biological Diversity. “These so-called reforms are 20 years too late and will only continue to fuel the climate emergency. These lease sales should be shelved and the climate-destroying federal fossil fuel programs brought to an end.”
As Spivak went on to note, the “communities most at risk from new fossil fuel extraction” are the “same communities that turned out in record numbers to get Bien elected in 2020.”
“We have heard a lot of rhetoric from President Biden and his administration about the need to take action on climate,” adds Kyle Tisdel from the Western Environmental Law Center. “But not only is the Administration not doing everything it could – it is not really doing anything. Climate action was a pillar of President Biden’s campaign, and his promises on this existential issue were a major reason the public elected him. Achieving results on climate is not a matter of domestic politics. It’s life and death.”
Author’s Note: Biden’s decision to resume new oil and gas leases on federal lands threatens to cost him his climate change fans right before the midterm elections. As noted in a previous article (click here to read), Biden seems already to have lost Gen Z voters who want to see action.