Delivering on new President Joe Biden’s promise to halt new oil and gas development on federal lands and coastal waters, Department of Interior (DOI) acting-Secretary Scott de la Vega signed an order placing a 60 day moratorium on offering new leases for oil, gas, and mining on federal lands and on the U.S. Outer-Continental shelf.
The order also pauses for 60 days any promotions for department staff and the pending transfers of federal lands back to the states.
Vega’s order does not affect the oil, gas, or mining leases auctioned off, or more than 1,400 permits issued, in the final months of President Donald Trump’s term in office.
Ending Oil and Gas Use
As a candidate for President Biden called for banning new oil and gas leases on federal land as part of his proposed efforts to fight climate change.
“I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” Biden said in a debate with former President Trump in October. “It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time.”
Immediate, and Long-Term Economic Impact
Although large oil and gas companies were prepared for the possibility of a federal leasing moratorium, having stockpiled leases, smaller mid-stream companies, companies that specialize in storing, processing, and transporting oil and gas, were hard hit by DOI’s announcement. Stock prices of Devon, Cimarex, EOG, and Matador, for example, all fell by at eight percent or more after DOI announced the moratorium.
Biden’s action puts the U.S. economic recovery at risk, especially harming oil and gas dependent communities, said Lori LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Gulf Economic Survival Team, in a statement.
“Today’s drastic actions by the Biden administration to eliminate leasing, drilling permits and contracts on federal lands and waters is detrimental to the hundreds of thousands of families who work in this industry and depend on these wages to pay their household bills and feed their families,” LeBlanc said. “The offshore oil and gas industry is a critical piece of our nation’s economy, and most especially for small businesses and families throughout the Gulf coast who depend on the industry’s high wage jobs.
“This act of prohibiting leasing and permitting in all areas of the outer continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico is extremely short-sighted and will hurt our Gulf coast citizens at a time when they are already struggling,” said LeBlanc. “Today we should be focusing on revitalizing America’s economy and ensuring the survival of many small businesses as well as essential community services that are funded by energy industry tax revenues.”
Going From Energy Independence to Energy Subservience
The Biden administration’s action undermines the energy independence America developed during President Donald Trump’s presidency, said Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, in a statement..
“Impeding American energy will only serve to hurt local communities and hamper America’s economic recovery,” said Sommers “Restricting development on federal lands and waters is nothing more than an ‘import more oil’ policy.
“Energy demand will continue to rise—especially as the economy recovers—and we can choose to produce that energy here in the United States or rely on foreign countries hostile to American interests,” Sommers said.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.