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Biden recommends reforms in oil and gas drilling, but does not push for a ban

An oil well pumping jack operated by Chevron Corp. in San Ardo, California, USA, on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

On Friday, the Biden administration proposed reforms to the country’s oil and gas leasing program that would raise energy companies’ costs of drilling on public land and water, but did not recommend ending public land leases.

Long awaited report, published by The Department of the Interior has recommended increasing royalty rates and rents for drillers, prioritizing leases in areas with known resource potential and avoiding leases in areas that could be built up to protect wildlife habitat, recreation and cultural resources.

The report completes a survey that President Joe Biden commissioned in January. The president ordered the suspension of new federal oil and gas leases on state land and waters, but a Louisiana federal judge blocked the administration’s suspension in June.

Drilling on state-owned land generates billions of dollars in revenue, but it accounts for about a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing the planet to warm. The report does not indicate that the administration will take into account the impact of climate change when approving new leases.

The report states that the federal oil and gas program enshrined in the law does not provide fair returns to taxpayers and does not adequately take into account its harmful effects on the environment. He called for new rules to increase royalty rates, bond rates and other fees for drillers. The minimum royalty rate is currently 12.5% ​​for oil and gas production on federal lands.

“Our country is facing a deep climate crisis that affects every American,” said Home Secretary Deb Haaland. “The Home Office has a responsibility to responsibly manage our public lands and waters, ensuring fair returns for taxpayers and mitigating worsening climate impacts, while maintaining a commitment to environmental justice.”

Environmentalists say the report says little about the impact of drilling on climate and runs counter to Biden’s pledges to stop drilling on public lands. Some groups note that the report was released during a long holiday weekend when fewer people noticed it.

“Releasing this grossly inadequate report over a long holiday weekend is a shameful attempt to hide the fact that President Biden has no intention of keeping up with his promise to stop oil and gas drilling on our state lands,” said Mitch Jones, director of policy at the Conservation Group. environment. Food & Water Watch, it said in a statement.

“A modest increase in royalties paid by climate pollutants will have no impact on the fight against the climate crisis and will actually make the federal government more dependent on fossil fuels as a source of revenue,” Jones said.

The report came after the president on Tuesday ordered the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the country’s Strategic Oil Reserve as part of a global effort by energy-consuming countries to contain skyrocketing fuel prices this year.

The Biden administration has approved 3,091 new permits for drilling on state land at 332 permits per month, up from the 300 permits issued by the Trump administration per month. The administration recently opened more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for an oil and gas drilling auction, a record offshore sale that will record greenhouse gas emissions for years to come.

Fossil fuel permit approvals are at odds with Biden’s climate agenda, which includes a commitment to halve U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach zero emissions by 2050.


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