UK Leasing

Biden continues where Trump left off with oil drilling permits: report


President Joe Biden approves more oil and gas drilling permits each month than Donald Trump does in his first three years in the White House, new research shows.

Among President Biden’s Day One campaign promises was not only to reverse the environmental damage caused by the previous administration, but also to advance an ambitious agenda that would tackle the climate crisis and rampant pollution.

Part of Mr. Biden’s commitment was to conserve “America’s natural treasures” by permanently protecting areas affected by President Trump’s “fire sale” as well as “the prohibition of the re-leasing of oil and gas on public lands and waters”.

However, the analysis of federal data, released Monday by the progressive think tank Public citizen, showed that with the exception of January 2021 – when Mr. Trump remained in office until the 20th – the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved an average of around 333 drilling permits per month.

That number is down about a quarter from the 452 permits per month in 2020, the last year of the Trump presidency. However, it is still over 35% higher than when Mr. Trump took office in 2017.

Under the Biden administration, monthly permit approvals by BLM, the federal agency that leases public land to oil and gas companies, peaked at 652 in April. They have been below 2020 levels since the summer after dropping below 300 in July.

“In the second half of 2021, the analysis shows that permit approvals under Biden began to decline, a positive sign,” the researchers noted.

The independent has contacted the White House for comment.

Mr Biden announced the US climate progress at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow last month. He underscored the importance of his clean energy agenda as the United States suffers an ever-deepening cycle of disasters linked to global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

“We will show the world that the United States is not only back at the table but hopefully leading by the power of our example,” Biden said in Glasgow.

Days after Cop26 ended, the Biden administration auctioned off drilling permits to the fossil fuel industry on 1.7 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico.

“When it comes to climate change policy, President Biden is saying the right things. But we need more than just promises, ”said Alan Zibel, author of the new study.

Emissions from the combustion and extraction of fossil fuels from public lands and waters account for about 25 percent of national carbon emissions, according to the US Geological Survey.

When he entered the White House in January, Mr. Biden formally suspended the oil and gas rental program.

Attorneys general for a group of Republican states, led by Louisiana’s heavy oil and gas, have successfully challenged Mr Biden’s sales suspension.

However, some environmental activists have argued that the Biden administration was not actually required to restart the rental program, and that there were other legal options that the president could avail himself of.

Earthjustice contends that government officials violated federal law by relying on a flawed and outdated environmental scan from 2017, while ignoring new information about the severity of the climate crisis. “The administration is legally obliged to assess this information before taking any action”, the environmental law organization said in a statement last month.

Fossil fuel companies such as Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil were able to bid on the November lease sale, which could keep them actively pumping oil into the Gulf for many years to come.

In a special report in May, the world energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency, has warned that to avoid dangerous climate change and meet the global goal of zero zero by 2050, there must be no new investments in fossil fuel supply projects.

In a statement to The independent a spokesperson for the Home Office, which oversees the BLM, said: “Reviews of permits on legally maintained leases are required by law. At the same time, Interior is conducting a more comprehensive analysis than ever of the greenhouse gas impacts from potential sales of oil and gas concessions. Ashore, the Bureau of Land Management is examining for the first time the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from multiple lease sales, and for those lease sales, it also carries out a robust public consultation process.

“Offshore, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management uses updated greenhouse gas emissions models to account for substitution impacts and foreign oil consumption, resulting in the most robust projections ever made. on the climatic impacts of offshore lease sales. Both agencies are also using the social cost of carbon to better understand the true impacts of fossil fuel rental decisions. “