Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 20, 2023

Contact:

Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414, tmckinnon@biologicaldiversity.org

Biden Oil and Gas Proposal Marks Massive Climate Failure

WASHINGTON— The Biden administration released proposed regulations today that would continue expanding oil and gas extraction on federal public lands, marking yet another major climate failure by the administration.

“This is a cowardly proposal that fails the basic climate imperative of ending fossil fuel expansion and phasing out production,” said Taylor McKinnon at the Center for Biological Diversity. “President Biden is blowing an opportunity to end oil and gas extraction on public land as the world reels from one climate catastrophe to the next. This dangerous plan would ravage more of the landscape with fracking while sealing our fate of increasing megafires, more preventable heat deaths, a shrinking Colorado River and runaway wildlife extinctions.”

The Interior Department rule governing the nation’s oil and gas leasing program proposes modest reforms, many of which are dependent on continued fossil fuel extraction, and makes no recommendations to phase out fossil fuels in the near future. It defies calls by the United Nations and multiple scientific bodies to end new fossil fuel projects and phase out existing extraction. Recent analyses show that wealthy countries must end all oil and gas extraction by 2031 to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

In response to today’s announcement, more than 500 groups sent a letter to Biden urging him to strengthen the proposal and phase down oil and gas production to near-zero by 2030.

Fossil fuel production on public lands causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. The Biden administration has failed to propose any policies to align the federal fossil fuel programs with decline curves necessary to avoid warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, the limit set by the United States and other countries. Federal data show that nearly 24 million acres of public lands, an area larger than the state of Indiana, are already leased to the oil and gas industry.

In 2022 more than 360 groups petitioned the administration to use its existing legal authority to phase out federal oil and gas extraction by 2035. Following a lawsuit, the administration rejected the petition in June, citing a lack of resources even as it was hammering out the details on today’s proposal.

This new rule comes as the administration touts “all-time high” federal oil production amid new fossil fuel approvals like the massive Willow project in Alaska’s Western Arctic. Federal data shows the Biden administration approved 6,430 permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands in its first two years, outpacing the Trump administration’s first two years. More than half those permits were in the Permian Basin, where permitting accelerated from 2021 to 2022 and methane emissions are among the highest in the country.

“Any rule that fails to phase out oil and gas production on public lands will sacrifice human lives, ecosystems and entire species at the altar of fossil fuel corporations and their insatiable quest for profit,” said McKinnon. “It will be another shameful addition to Biden’s record alongside the Willow Project, his thousands of new drilling permits and his rollback of environmental laws to enable illegal fossil fuel pipelines.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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