CASPER, Wyo. — The administration of President Joe Biden has been facing criticism from multiple directions in regard to oil and gas lease sales on federal lands.
While Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon accused the administration last week of dragging its feet on allowing oil and gas lease sales to resume, some environmental organizations are accusing Biden of breaking his campaign promise in allowing the oil and gas lease sales to resume.
The Department of the Interior on Tuesday initiated the process to begin conducting oil and gas lease sales.
“This comes despite the Biden Administration’s recent appeal of a federal judge’s ruling on new leasing, his campaign promise to ban ‘new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters,’ and multiple ongoing climate change-induced disasters that continue to cost lives and billions of U.S. dollars annually,” Friends of the Earth said in a press release Tuesday.
Friends of the Earth Senior Fossil Fuels Program Manager Nicole Ghio said that “the climate is heading down a catastrophic, unsustainable path.” She said that oil and gas leasing would “lock in decades of fossil fuel extraction” and stopping the lease sales “is the least Biden could do.”
“Instead, Biden is restarting a broken leasing system that is ripping off taxpayers, polluting our air, lands, and waters, and killing us,” Ghio said. “Big Oil’s profits shouldn’t be prioritized over the livability of our planet.”
The Friends of the Earth press release said that the Bureau of Land Management has initiated a scoping process for pubic lands lease sales and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued preliminary plans to conduct an offshore lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The Biden Administration did appeal the preliminary injunction ruling on the leasing pause in order to address climate change, but is choosing to resume the broken program despite having no legal obligation to turn over our public lands and waters to the oil and gas industry,” the press release states.
Friends of the Earth argues that oil and gas companies have plenty of resources to continue drilling without additional oil and gas leases on federal lands.
“The Biden Administration’s decision to resume oil and gas lease sales comes on the heels of oil and gas corporations stockpiling a historic number of applications to drill, while an analysis found that the sector was already sitting on millions of acres of idle leases across the West,” Friends of the Earth said. “A recent study by the Conservation Economics Institute found that Big Oil corporations have nearly 20 years of drilling permits in New Mexico alone.”