President Joe Biden is set to announce a wide-ranging moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on U.S. lands, as his administration moves quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment.
Two people with knowledge of Biden’s plans outlined the proposed moratorium, which will be announced Wednesday. They asked not to be identified because the plan has not been made been public.
The move follows a 60-day suspension of new drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters announced last week and follows Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands. The moratorium is intended to allow time for officials to review the impact of oil and gas drilling on the environment and climate.
Environmental groups hailed the expected moratorium.
“The fossil fuel industry has inflicted tremendous damage on the planet. The administration’s review, if done correctly, will show that filthy fracking and drilling must end for good, everywhere,” Kierán Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said.
Oil industry groups slammed the move, saying Biden had already eliminated thousands of oil and gas jobs by killing the Keystone XL oil pipeline on his first day in office.
“This is just the start. It will get worse,” Brook Simmons, president of the Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, said.
“Meanwhile, the laws of physics, chemistry and supply and demand remain in effect. Oil and natural gas prices are going up, and so will home heating bills, consumer prices and fuel costs.”
Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, which represents oil and gas drillers in Western states, said the expected executive order is intended to delay drilling on federal lands to the point where it is no longer viable.
“The environmental left is leading the agenda at the White House when it comes to energy and environment issues,” she said, noting that the moratorium would be felt most acutely in Western states such as Utah, Wyoming and North Dakota. Biden lost all three states to former President Donald Trump.
The drilling moratorium is among several climate-related actions Biden will announce Wednesday.
He also is likely to direct officials to conserve 30 percent of the country’s lands and ocean waters in the next 10 years, initiate a series of regulatory actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and issue a memorandum that elevates climate change to a national security priority.
He also is expected to direct all U.S. agencies to use science and evidence in federal rule-making and announce a U.S.-hosted climate summit on Earth Day, April 22.
The plan is part of Biden’s campaign pledge for a $2 trillion program to slow global warming.
On his first day in office last Wednesday, Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord and revoked approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
The moratorium is limited to federal lands and does not affect drilling on private lands, which is largely regulated by states. Oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters account for about a quarter of annual U.S. production.
Under Trump, Interior officials approved almost 1,400 permits on federal lands, primarily in Wyoming and New Mexico. Those permits, which remain valid, will allow companies to continue drilling for years to come.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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