Pushback Against Biden’s Suspension of Federal Oil and Gas
Following his inauguration, President Joe Biden suspended new leasing for fossil fuel production on federal property, as well as the issuance of new drilling permits. The move comes as President Biden promises to move swiftly on climate change, but could prove to be a major blow to the Texas oil and gas industry.
The Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega signed a 60-day Temporary Suspension of Delegated Authority order Wednesday night that suspended the issuance of federal onshore and offshore oil and natural gas leasing permits. The move is consistent with Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling and will expire soon after Biden’s nomination for Interior Secretary Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-D) is confirmed.
The ban is indicative of plans for long term environmental regulations that will likely result in the relocation of oil and gas companies. According to Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA) president Todd Staples, “banning energy development on federal lands and in offshore waters not only threatens thousands of the best-paying jobs but needlessly erases much-needed revenue that helps pay for schools and other essential services.” While over recent years national bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling has increased dramatically, Texas’ dependency on its fossil fuel industry has meant that economic and environmental arguments have seen significantly less traction.
In an interview with Texas Politics, Texas GOP Chairman Allen West (TX-R) expressed concerns over Biden’s energy plan. He highlighted Texas’ position as the “number one exporter of liquified natural gas,” and reiterated the adverse economic effects on Texas. West accused progressives of purposefully generating dependency and called for Texas leadership to “stand up” against efforts to “undermine economic viability.”
Biden’s action has drawn significant support from environmentalists, who have also lauded his other steps towards combating the climate crisis. Since his inauguration, Biden has rejoined the Paris climate accord and canceled the construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Staples, meanwhile, insists that the solution lies in “producing more affordable and reliable energy to power our lives.” He stated: “Innovations in oil and natural gas development will continue to lead the way in environmental progress and smart, science-based policies must be in place to ensure a cleaner, stronger, and better energy future here and across the globe.”