WASHINGTON – Despite President Biden’s pledge to aggressively cut fossil fuel pollution that promotes climate change, his administration has quietly taken action this month that would allow oil and gas drilling and burning for decades to come Will guarantee
The confrontation between Mr. Biden’s promises and some of his recent decisions reflects the political, technical and legal difficulties of separating the country from oil, gas and coal, which have underlined its economy for more than a century.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration defended the Willow Project in federal court, a massive oil drilling operation proposed on Alaska’s North Slope that was approved by the Trump administration and is being fought by environmentalists. The week before, it launched former President Donald J. Trump supported the decision to grant oil and gas leases on federal lands in Wyoming. Also this month, it refused to take action when it had the opportunity to stop crude oil from flowing through the bitterly contested, 2,700-mile Dakota Access pipeline, which lacked federal permits.
The three decisions suggest the tainted road Mr. Biden is following as he tries to balance his climate agenda against practical and political pressures.
Mr. Biden “cannot afford to take a net position on the climate” because he lacks a strong majority in Congress, William A. Said Galston, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “This is the background against which this president and the administration will compromise on every single issue.”
After successfully campaigning on a pledge to address global warming, Mr. Biden hit the cease button on any new gas or oil leases on federal lands and waters, returning the United States to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and Construction The controversial proposal was rejected. Keystone XL Pipeline – On my first day in office.
But he is also trying to provide a safety net for people working in the oil, gas and coal sectors, including union employees, and to ease the transition to wind, solar and other renewable energy.
As important, Mr. Biden is trying to avoid alienating a handful of liberal Republicans and Democrats from oil, gas and coal states that will decide the fate of his legislative agenda in Congress. Among them is Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, for whom the Willow Project is a top priority and who grilled Deb Hyland about it during Ms. Holland’s confirmation hearing for the Secretary of the Interior in February.
Ms. Halland, Who opposed the willow project as a member of Congress, Personally called Ms. Murkowski and other members of Alaska’s All-Republican delegation to explain that the Biden administration would support the project in federal court in Anchorage, House and Senate aides confirmed.
Gerald Torres, a professor of law and environmental justice at Yale University, said the decision on the willow project was made as the Biden administration is trying to win Republican support for its infrastructure package and other policies. “They would need Murkowski’s vote for certain things,” he said. “These are political calculations.”
Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska said in an interview that he, Ms. Murkowski and Representative Don Young of Alaska had met with Ms. Hollande “ad nauseam” about Alaska’s issues, including the Willow Project. Mr. Sullivan said he has repeatedly made the case that Willow’s estimated 2,000 jobs and $ 1.2 billion in revenue should be seen as part of the Biden administration’s focus on environmental equity, as it has led to local and Alaska in the North Slope Native communities will benefit directly.
“If you kill these jobs then you’re rolling environmental justice on its head,” Mr. Sullivan said.
ConocoPhillips’ multi-billion dollar plan to drill part of the National Petroleum Reserve will produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day by 2050. It is being challenged by environmental groups who said the Trump administration failed to consider the impact that the drilling would have. Burning oil on fragile wildlife and global warming will be affected.
In contradiction worthy of Kafka, ConocoPhillips plans to install “chillers” into the permafrost – which is rapidly melting due to climate change – to keep it solid enough to drill for oil, which causes burns The snow will continue to melt.
Earlier this month, lawyers for the Biden administration also Protest in court Closing the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is carrying approximately 550,000 barrels of oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other activists have fought it for more than five years, opposing the pipeline threatening water supplies and sacred sites.
The Biden administration could have decided to stop the pipeline, while the Army Corps of Engineers conducts a new court-ordered environmental review, but opted not to intervene. Judge James Bosberg of the US District Court for the District of Columbia criticized the administration for inaction.
A few days later, the Biden administration defended 440 oil and gas leases issued by the Trump administration on federal land in Wyoming, which is also an important habitat for sage grouse, mule deer, and prowhorns. Environmentalists successfully sued the government to block the leases, arguing that they violated a 2015 agreement that protected that land. But in federal appeals court, the Biden administration defended the decision to allow oil and gas drilling.
Environmental activists campaigning to elect Mr Biden said this week that he was “stunned” and “disappointed” by the decisions, but refrained from criticizing the president.
Still, some said they were running out of patience with Mr. Biden’s distance between climate policies and his actions, at a time when scientists say countries need to cut fossil fuel emissions faster and faster Need to do or risk irreversible damage to the planet.
“These are bad decisions,” said Drew Caputo, a lawyer for the environmental group Earthjustice, which has fought the Trump administration’s policies that Mr. Biden is now defending. “These actions are carbon bombs.”
The physics of climate change is forgiving, Mr. Caputo said. He said fossil fuel extraction should be stopped to prevent global temperatures from rising to dangerously high levels.
“I think they are being pressured politically. I think there are thin margins,” he said. “But the climate crisis doesn’t care about that stuff.”
This month the world’s major energy agency warned that governments around the world should now stop approving fossil fuel projects if they want to keep the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels Huh. This is the limit beyond which scientists say that the Earth will experience irreversible damage.
Press officials from the White House, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice declined to comment on how the administration’s recent decisions align with its climate promises. The Department of the Interior also said there would be no comment on why the course on the willow project was reversed after Ms. Hollande marked it as “arrogant” in a letter she signed while serving in Congress.
In its court filings regarding willows, the government said the Trump administration adequately considered its effects on fish, caribou and polar bear habitat. It also retained the method used by the former administration for greenhouse gas emissions generated by the project.
“Conoco has valid lease rights,” the filing stated, noting that under the law the company is entitled to develop its leases “subject to appropriate regulation.”
Amy M., director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Jaffe said the fact that a handful of states would not immediately stop their oil production would not necessarily meet Mr. Biden’s goal of reducing emissions and transitioning to clean energy.
“To use an oil analogy, we’re not changing a speedboat. We’re shifting the course of a giant supertanker. It’s not going to happen overnight,” Ms. Jaffe said, “It’s a time-consuming one. And the thoughtful process is a time-consuming and thoughtful process to move the entire country to a major energy transition, with the complexity of an economy the size of the United States. “