Following the presidential inauguration on Tuesday, the Biden administration promised to act on its climate change plan within the first few days in office, starting with the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. Now, the US Department of Interior has fulfilled Biden’s other campaign pledge, signing an order that will ban oil and gas drilling on public lands.
The order, signed by acting Secretary Scott de la Vega on Wednesday, will suspend any new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits on public lands and waters for a duration of 60 days. The latest order is part of a series of review programs initiated by the Department of Interior. The order came into effect upon signing, but current operations that are under valid leases will not be affected.
The 60-day moratorium also puts a pause on other activities as well, including department staff promotions, and the transfer to designated public lands to the state. Although the ban is only temporary, once Biden’s nomination for Interior Department lead, Rep. Deb Haaland is confirmed, such decisions could become permanent at the stroke of her signature.
In response to the Interior Department’s latest action on Biden’s climate plan, the American Petroleum Institute issued backlash against the decision. According to the oil industry trade group, limiting the access to public energy resources would lead to increased foreign imports, especially from countries that have shown to be hostile to the US. In addition, the institute also points out that numerous American jobs would be lost, and tax revenues would be reduced.
However, the 60-day moratorium may not end up having the significant effect that the Biden administration had hoped for. In the final months of the Trump administration, government officials approved nearly 1,400 new permits on federal lands, mostly in New Mexico and Wyoming. The permits, which will remain valid despite the change in presidency, will allow oil and gas companies to maintain drilling activity for years, ultimately undercutting Biden’s climate goals.
According to the US Geological Survey, oil and gas extraction from public lands and water account for nearly 10% of all US oil and gas produced annually. The extraction and use of these fossil fuels creates approximately 550 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
Information for this briefing was found via Reuters. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.