Biden broadcasts five-year international lease plan on Friday

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President Biden’s administration has opened up more next Friday offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters over the next five years, laying out the U.S. roadmap for future fossil fuel extraction just a day after suffering a major climate defeat in the Supreme Court.

The proposed offshore drilling program from 2023 to 2028 would ban exploration off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. But by leaving open the possibility of new drilling in parts of the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, the announcement doesn’t align with Biden’s campaign promise to end fossil fuel leasing. federal.

The plan takes the country further than its pledge to cut the nation’s warming planet in half by 2030 from 2005 levels, and helps prevent fires, hurricanes and hurricanes. drought due to rising temperature. Biden’s climate agenda now hinges on whether Democrats can pass a mediation package in the Senate that includes strong environmental policies.

John Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said: “The Supreme Court just put a lead marble around his ankle regarding rights. his law enforcement. “If you don’t get the settlement, along with the constraints that the Supreme Court has put in place, I don’t think there’s any way you can get the 50% reduction by the end of the decade.”

But the plan to go abroad, along with other events this week, emphasizes the political and legal limits in the United States in addressing global warming and presents risks to Democrats as Americans experience record gas prices ahead of the midterm elections in November. 11 and many on the left demanded stricter limits on fossil fuels.

On Thursday, a conservative majority on the Supreme Court hit a blow the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to force electricity suppliers to abandon coal burning. And Biden’s Interior Department was forced by a lower court order to lease space in the western United States this week for onshore drilling.

The result of warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by continuing to burn oil and other fossil fuels is great for mankind: If left unchecked, global warming could hamper the fight against hunger, poverty and disease worldwide. International Energy Agency urged pause investing in new fossil fuel supplies to meet that goal.

Brian O’Neill, principal scientist at the Joint Institute for Global Change and lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change impacts report, said: slow down the progress we might be making. and vulnerability.

The Interior Department is reviewing 10 potential auctions in the Gulf of Mexico and one at Cook Inlet in Alaska. Home Secretary Deb Haaland stressed that the plan has not yet been finalized and her department is looking at the option of not leasing any operations. The plan to shrink the areas considered for oil and gas leases from an area was proposed under President Donald Trump in 2018.

“A Proposal Program is not a decision to grant specific leases or authorize any drilling or development,” Haaland said in a statement. “From Day One, President Biden and I have made clear our commitment to the transition to a clean energy economy.

During his run for the White House, Biden vowed to ban new oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters. “No more drilling on federal land, period,” he said at a campaign event in New Hampshire. “Phase, period, period of time.”

In the Senate, there is growing optimism as Senate Majority Leaders Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) and Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.), who effectively concluded negotiations over the previous iteration of an overarching package, was able to reach an agreement. In recent days, Democratic leaders have agreed to a proposal to reduce prescription drug prices for the elderly, a policy that would be part of a broader economic package.

Since December, when Manchin blocked Biden’s original Build Back Better proposal, the senator has expressed reservations about the price tag of any potential package, warning of rising national debt and rising inflation. leap. But with just 50 seats in the Senate, the party needs Manchin’s vote to pass any legislation. As a result, party leaders were pleased and cut many of their domestic priorities from the proposed package.

However, energy policy is still expected to remain at the heart of the potential bill, as Manchin has long called for protecting US energy security and increasing its energy independence from other countries. foreign. But aides say negotiations on what the energy and climate components of the deal will look like are still underway and final decisions could be weeks away.

In a statement Friday, Manchin said he was “satisfied” that the plan was in place, although he was “disappointed to see that rental sales equal to ‘not’ is even an option on the table. .”

“Our leasing programs are a critical component of America’s energy security,” Manchin said. “I hope the administration will finally unveil a plan to expand energy production in the country, done in the cleanest way possible, while taking the necessary steps to bring the country’s foreign leasing program to the world. we are on track to give the market signals needed to lower prices for all Americans. “

Inside the administration, Biden officials say the court’s decision is not a surprise and they largely hope to lose the case. However, in the hours since the ruling was announced, senior aides are still shocked and dismayed as they account for the limits of their ability to combat climate change, officials said. Administration officials are beginning to map out the next steps on how to proceed with Biden’s climate program, they said, but they acknowledge that there is a pervasive sense of frustration across offices about climate policy.

Gina McCarthy, Biden’s national climate adviser who formulated the EPA rule at the heart of the Supreme Court case, has emphasized in recent days that the administration is focused on finding ways alternative, particularly through the Defense Production Act, to further meet their climate goals. .

“I think his use of the Defense Production Act to speed up all of this domestic manufacturing is really one of the ways this president has made it clear to everyone that he will continue to push the envelope. push the change needed,” McCarthy said in a recent interview with The Washington Post, referring to Biden’s attempt to supply rare earth minerals to the electric vehicle market.

However, Biden’s efforts to limit fossil fuel extraction have run into serious legal and political obstacles.

Soon after taking office, he executed an executive order instructing the Interior to halt all new leases on public lands and waters while it considered how to tweak the program. A federal judge in Louisiana last year blocked that pause. And Biden has faced criticism over the hire from Manchin, along with many Republicans.

Federal law requires the Interior Department to publish plans for new offshore oil and gas leases every five years, but the law gives the government full discretion to decide where and whether to allow new drilling.

“It is extremely important to acknowledge that the Biden administration has the discretion to propose a program,” said Drew Caputo, Vice President of Land, Wildlife and Ocean Litigation at Earthjustice. 5 year lease without providing for any new rental sales. environmental law firm.

Republican lawmakers and oil industry lobbyists have urged the administration to boost U.S. fossil fuel production to help curb record pump prices. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gasoline hit $4.84 on Friday, up more than 50% this year.

“If the administration is serious about lowering pump prices, they should expand access to oil and natural gas on federal lands, not kill it,” said Senator John Barrasso (Wyo. ), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a recent statement.

According to the Interior Ministry, it takes about 5 to 10 years to start producing oil from an offshore lease. That means Friday’s proposal would have little immediate impact on the pump’s current price – although it could have a significant impact on the US’ ability to meet its pledge. to cut emissions by 2030.

Biden administration officials conceded that soaring fuel prices could dent Democrats’ chances in Congress in the November midterm elections. They’ve already taken some steps to lower gas prices. which is a problem for climate activists, such as allowing historically large releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The western and central part of the Gulf of Mexico is the heart of the US offshore energy business, where about 1.7 million barrels of oil are extracted each day mainly off the coast of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. and shipped to refineries. into gasoline, jet fuel and plastics. The Gulf accounts for about one-seventh of all crude oil produced in the country.

Energy companies have worked for years to drill for oil and gas beyond the Gulf, off the East and West coasts. But those hopes were dashed in 2010 when an offshore exploration rig exploded and resulted in the deaths of 11 crew members, causing the worst oil spill at sea in US history. .

The Deepwater Horizon disaster killed hundreds of thousands of birds, dumped millions of barrels of oil into the ocean, and stymied efforts to expand U.S. offshore oil exploration.

Following the oil spill, President Barack Obama halted plans to expand drilling to areas of the Eastern Gulf, near Florida, as well as along the East Coast. His successor, Donald Trump, sought to expand drilling up and down the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, only to withdraw after bipartisan governors from Maine to Florida opposed the plan. this.

Even energy industry representatives acknowledge that there will not be drilling in the Atlantic or Pacific any time soon.

“We understand, politically, there will be no production there,” said Erik Milito, president of the National Oceanic Industry Association, which represents offshore wind and oil companies. likely for a long time.

“But at some point at high prices,” he added, “that’s when you start to see the public change their tune and politicians change their tune.”

The Biden administration’s ability to fulfill the president’s vow to halt new drilling is also being tested ashore, on hundreds of millions of federally-managed acres in the West.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management raised $22 million providing about 130,000 acres for drilling across seven states this week. Immediately, a coalition of environmental groups sued to stop the authorities, urging them to find a way to stop the auctions despite facing a court order.

Melissa Hornbein, senior attorney with the Western Center for Environmental Law, said: “Sufficient scientific evidence shows us that burning fossil fuels from existing leases on federal land is unsuitable for habitable climates.

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