Oil and Gas Energy Sector is Damaging the Climate, US Won’t Stop Them

According to federal records, the Biden administration plans to sell oil and gas leases on vast swaths of public land in the United States West, despite the Interior Department’s finding that doing so might cost society billions of dollars in climate change implications.

Last week, administration officials said that federal authorities will examine greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels mined from government-owned properties across the United States for the first time.

These fuels contribute for around 20% of all energy-related emissions in the United States, making them a great target for climate activists looking to shut down leasing. President Joe Biden ran on a platform of promising to put a halt to new drilling on public lands.

According to federal records, the Biden administration plans to sell oil and gas leases on vast swaths of public land in the United States West, despite the Interior Department’s finding that doing so might cost society billions of dollars in climate change implications.

Last week, administration officials said that federal authorities will examine greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels mined from government-owned properties across the United States for the first time.

The decision affects lease sales in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, and other states scheduled for early next year.

In its Montana leasing proposal, agency officials said, “BLM has limited decision authority to effectively or demonstrably avert the cumulative climate change consequences that would arise from world emissions.”

Documents published for sale in other states included similar assertions.

Agency officials indicated Tuesday that the lease plans might alter as the administration continues to study greenhouse gas emissions and their consequences on people and the environment.

Because of potential impacts on a struggling bird species, the greater sage grouse, and migrating pronghorn antelope, the land bureau plans to defer leasing on nearly 600 square miles (1550 square kilometers) in Wyoming, 213 square miles (550 square kilometers) in Colorado, and 5 square miles (14 square kilometers) in Montana.

Despite this, Wyoming has the largest acreage available for lease, with over 280 square miles (725 square kilometers).

According to land bureau papers, the so-called societal costs of emissions from burning oil and gas from all the parcels — which include greater natural catastrophes, agriculture losses, and public health concerns as a result of climate change — are expected to vary from $630 million to roughly $7 billion.

The administration’s refusal to use climate costs as a justification for limiting leases enrages environmentalists and others who have called for a moratorium on federal fossil fuel sales. They said it jeopardized the president’s participation at the United Nations climate meeting in Glasgow, where Biden and other global leaders vowed to reduce methane emissions, a consequence of drilling, on Tuesday.

According to Harvard University economics professor James Stock, the administration’s decision to place a cash value on greenhouse gases and then claim that such repercussions are hard to determine due to the global scope of climate change is perplexing.

“To claim it’s too difficult or that they won’t be able to achieve it is simply not true. Stock stated, “All of those computations have been completed.” “This comes as a shock to me, because it contradicts the Biden administration’s climate aims.”

Under prior Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama, similar decisions were made that fossil fuel lease sales in the United States should not be severely regulated due to global warming concerns.

The next lease auctions appear to be “business as usual,” according to Jeremy Nichols of the environmental organization WildEarth Guardians. “It contradicts experts’ findings that any additional fossil fuel output is unacceptably high, and governments must find ways to reduce production.”

When Biden announced intentions to study greenhouse gas emissions last week, Republicans and lobbyists from the petroleum sector were eager to criticize him. According to Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance, an industry trade organization, the choice not to directly address them confirms that blocking development on federal lands will have no influence on climate change.

“Stopping all leasing and development on federal lands would have little influence on climate change since production would simply be shifted to nonfederal areas or OPEC” or other overseas producers,” Sgamma explained.

Independent studies have indicated that crude imports would counterbalance some, but not all, of the reduced drilling on federal lands and waterways.

Companies began stockpiling licences to drill on leased US-owned properties as Trump’s administration drew to a close. When Biden initially assumed office, this trend persisted, but it has slowed in recent months. According to figures released Tuesday, 261 drilling licenses were authorized in September, compared to almost 800 in Trump’s final month in office.

According to the lease contracts, the Land Bureau’s regulatory jurisdiction was confined to actions directly related to oil and gas development, not the later combustion of the fuels. Rather, they recommend reducing emissions by tackling methane leaks from oil fields and other sources.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules to decrease methane emissions from drilling on Tuesday.

The lease auction next year will be the bureau’s first since Biden stopped the program only a week after taking office as part of his climate change agenda.

A federal court in Louisiana ordered the government to reinstate the auctions in June, claiming that Interior officials had no “rational rationale” for halting them.

Attorneys general from 13 states filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming that the suspension will cost them money and jobs.

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