Interior Department releases long-awaited review of federal oil and gas leasing program

NS The report, which Biden put in last January, outlines a series of major fiscal reforms to the federal oil and gas program, which the Interior Department says currently “do not provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before accounting for costs.” climate-related costs to be borne by taxpayers.”

Environmental groups expressed concern about the review and called for more urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.

“These small changes are virtually meaningless in the light of this climate emergency and they break campaign promises,” said Randi Spivak, director of public lands at the Center for Biodiversity. of Biden on the cessation of new oil and gas leases on public lands. “Give the green light for more fossil fuel extraction, then pretend it’s okay by raising the royalty price, like rearranging the seats on the Titanic. There’s no time left for the small steps that make the difference. The fossil fuel industry ravages the Earth even more.”

“We urge the Biden administration to build on this report by completely eliminating new oil and gas leases,” said Athan Manuel, Sierra Club Lands Program Manager. Do better to ensure that our public lands are part of the climate solution, rather than enriching oil company CEOs at the public’s expense. “

The report comes as the Biden administration faces criticism from some environmental advocates for moving forward. reopen millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for drilling auctions. The auction is the opposite of Biden’s climate agenda – the President has Promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 – and environmental advocates say they can set US climate goals for years.
Administration tried in its early days at the office to stop new oil and gas drilling. Biden’s January order halted new leases and directed the Interior Department to conduct a comprehensive review of existing programs related to fossil fuel development. But a lawsuit filed in March on behalf of 13 states led to a ruling blocking Biden’s suspension, and the administration is appealing that decision.

“The Department of Home Affairs has an obligation to responsibly manage our public lands and waters – delivering a fair return to taxpayers and minimizing further adverse climate impacts – and unwavering pursuit of environmental justice,” Interior Minister Deb Haaland said in a statement Friday. “This review identifies significant deficiencies in federal oil and gas programs, and identifies critical and urgent program and fiscal reforms that will benefit the American people.”

Why the Biden administration reopened oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico

The review notes that the fiscal component of the federal oil and gas program is “particularly outdated, with royalty rates that have not been raised in 100 years.”

An increase in royalty rates should be considered, and to the extent permitted by law, to increase existing minimums for bids, rents, royalties and bonds, the report states.

The review also encouraged action by Congress “on legislation that is pending approval to introduce fundamental reforms to onshore and offshore oil and gas programs.”

While the review of the rental program outlines “a series of important and long-overdue reforms”, the Speaker of the House of Commons Natural Resources and Environment Raúl Grijalva stressed the need for more permanent solutions.

“The government needs to manage public lands and waters in line with its climate commitments, and today’s report offers no plans to do so,” Grijalva said in a statement. “What it does deliver is a series of important and long-overdue reforms to the federal fossil fuel rental program, which has so far been a public subsidy for mining.” and oil and gas exploration.”

White House creates new climate-focused division in Office of Science and Technology Policy

“We need new industry financing requirements and more public transparency on leasing and the administration should start making these welcome changes as soon as possible,” said Arizona Democrat. added.

“Congress needs to end wasteful subsidies and rental reform bills before that happens because every American sees climate change around them and we all do. know that marginally impermanent policy changes will not reduce emissions enough to protect our quality of life.”

Friday’s report also follows Biden’s announcement earlier this week about release emergency oil reserves to combat high energy prices ahead of the busy holiday travel season.

The administration may have chosen to increase domestic oil production, but the White House has been wary of the optical ability of the President and his aides to push for more drilling at home after a summit on oil production. climate change UN COP26, where Mr. Biden promised that the US would be “leading by example” on clean energy initiatives.

This story has been updated with more details and background.


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