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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Biden’s reforms in oil and gas leases did not lead to a drilling ban

Matthew Daly | Associated Press

WASHINGTON. On Friday, the Biden administration recommended revising the national oil and gas leasing program to limit the areas available for energy development and increase the costs of oil and gas companies to drill on public land and water.

The long-awaited Interior Ministry report does not recommend ending oil and gas leases on state land, as many environmental groups are calling for. But officials said the report will lead to a more responsible leasing process that will provide higher returns for US taxpayers.

“Our country is facing a deep climate crisis that affects every American,” Home Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement, adding that the new report’s recommendations will mitigate the worsening impacts of climate change, “while remaining resilient in the pursuit of environmental justice “.

The report concludes a review commissioned in January by President Joe Biden, who in his early days in office decided to suspend sales to federal oil and gas companies, citing concerns about climate change.

The moratorium drew strong criticism from Republicans in Congress and the oil industry, even as many environmentalists and Democrats said Biden should make the lease suspension permanent.

The new report seeks a sweet spot to continue the multibillion-dollar leasing program and reform it to end what many officials see as overly beneficial to the industry.

The report recommends an increase in federal royalty rates for oil and gas drilling, which have not been increased in 100 years. The federal rate of 12.5% ​​that developers have to pay to drill on public land is significantly lower than many states and private landowners are charged for leasing drilling on public or private land.

The report also says the government should consider raising bond payments, which energy companies should postpone for future clean-ups before drilling new wells. The report says that bond rates have not risen in decades.

The report says the Bureau of Land Administration, an agency of the Department of the Interior, should focus lease proposals on sites with moderate to high oil and gas potential and close to existing oil and gas infrastructure.

The White House declined to comment on Friday, citing questions from the Home Office.

The federal leasing program has garnered renewed attention in recent weeks as gasoline prices soared and Republicans complained about Biden’s policies, including a moratorium on leases, a waiver of the Keystone XL pipeline and a ban on oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. nature of Alaska, contributed to the rise in gasoline prices. jump in prices.

On Tuesday, Biden ordered the release of a record 50 million barrels of oil from America’s strategic reserves in a bid to lower gas prices amid fears of inflation. Gas prices are around $ 3.40 a gallon, more than 50% higher than a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.

The Biden administration held a lease sale of federal oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico last week after attorneys general of Republican-led states successfully filed a federal lawsuit to lift the federal oil and gas sales suspension that Biden had imposed on the office.

Energy companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil have offered a total of $ 192 million for offshore drilling rights in the Persian Gulf, highlighting the obstacles Biden faces in meeting climate targets that depend on significant reductions in fossil fuel emissions.

Leases will take years to develop, which means oil companies will be able to continue producing oil beyond 2030, when Biden set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels. Scientists say the world must make good progress towards this goal over the next decade to avoid catastrophic climate change.

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Yet even as Biden tried to convince other world leaders to step up efforts to combat global warming, including at the UN climate talks in Scotland this month, he found it difficult to succeed on climate issues at home.

Early next year, the administration proposed another round of oil and gas sales in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and other states. Interior Ministry officials continued their work despite finding that burning fuels could lead to potential climate damage of billions of dollars in the future.

According to the US Geological Survey, emissions from the burning and extraction of fossil fuels from government land and water bodies account for about a quarter of US carbon dioxide emissions.

Environmentalists welcomed the report’s recommendation to raise royalty rates, but some groups said the report lacked measures needed to tackle the climate crisis.

“Today’s report is the complete failure of climate leadership that our world desperately needs,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group.

The report “proposes an increase in fossil fuel leases that our climate cannot afford,” and reneged on Biden’s campaign pledge to end new leases for oil and gas on state land, McKinnon said.

The American Petroleum Institute, a leading lobbying group for the oil industry, said Interior is proposing “to increase spending on energy development in America without a clear roadmap for future federal leasing.”

Other groups were more optimistic.

“This report provides an incredibly compelling case, both economically and environmentally, for bringing the federal oil and gas leasing program into the 21st century,” said Colleen O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Implementing these belated reforms will ensure that taxpayers, communities and wildlife are no longer affected by below market rates, insufficient protection and poor planning.”

The Wildlife Federation and other groups have called on the Senate to include oil and gas program reforms in Biden’s ambitious social and environmental policy bill. Many reforms, including higher royalty rates and bans on drilling in Arctic shelters and along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, were included in the version of the bill approved last week.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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