Biden administration forced to open up federal land for drilling – what now?
Washington DC - President Biden announced plans on Tuesday to open up federal land for drilling again. This is a huge step backwards from what he promised during his campaign – so is the president actually committed to fighting climate change?
On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that it is opening the door to future leasing of land specifically for drilling ops, which is actually damaging to our environment. This announcement came after a court order forced the administration to end its freeze on land leasing. But does that mean that you should start saying "thanks, Biden" when the next drought or flood hits?
Let's take a look at what else is going on here. The President of the United States (POTUS) put the brakes on plans to open up federal land for old and gas drilling back in January, shortly after taking office. That was part of the President's plan to combat climate change.
But in June, Judge Terry Doughty of the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled an injunction on the freeze of auctioning federal lands for oil and gas drilling. It has the authority to so, meaning that the federal government has no choice but to comply.
This situation actually goes back to the Trump administration and even to the Obama administration. At the end of 2016, Obama pushed through decisions to close off areas, mainly for offshore drilling.
Then, the next administration moved into the White House, and Trump's legacy of taking apart climate policies included loosening regulations. This in turn helped the US Interior Department secure leases for oil and gas drilling.
That brings us back to 2021, where the Biden administration paused those lease agreements in January, but is now legally obligated to hit the play button again. In this particular case, its hands are tied.
But an appeal has already been launched, as well as a lawsuit brought by the Earthjustice organization on behalf of the environmental groups Friends of the Earth, Healthy Gulf, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity.
What's it got to do with you?
As it stands, the US Interior Department has to offer a huge chunk of 90 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as over 560,000 acres in Wyoming. This huge amount of land is a prize for the fossil fuel industry, and for the states able to begin drilling, because of the roughly one billion barrels of oil and over four trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The oil and natural gas our country produces contribute to 24% of the total CO2 emissions in the USA. It's clear that CO2 added to the atmosphere is changing our planet in the worst way, so the link between new drilling operations aimed at getting more fossil fuels out of the earth and their effect on our atmosphere is equally clear. If our country wants to combat climate change, then adding more fuel to the fire is definitely not the way to go about it.
The weather is where that is most visible. This year was another "weird" one in terms of extreme weather and record heat, but the new abnormal is here to stay.
Pretty heavy, but there's still hope that the appealing against the Louisiana District Court decision will work. Either way, this is a big test of the Biden administration's commitment to fighting the climate crisis.
Cover photo: Copyright: muha