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Energy & Environment Biden officials shift blame over oil lease sales

Energy & Environment Biden officials shift blame over oil lease sales

The Biden administration blames the restart of oil-and-gas leasing on a court order, while the Energy Department is increasing nuclear power.

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Court ruling gives new impetus to oil leasing

The Biden administration, under fire from climate activists over its move to restart oil and gas leasing on federal lands, is seeking to shift blame to a court ruling as it navigates dueling climate and energy pressures.  

The administration has stressed that Friday’s decision by the court to open up 144,000 acres of publicly owned land for oil-and-gas drilling was a result of a court order. It has also indicated that it prefers not to sell leases. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday said the court ruling was forcing our hand and that President Bidens policy is to ban additional leasing.”

Today’s action was a result of a court-ordered injunction, which we continue to appeal. The president’s policy is to ban additional leases, Psaki said.   

When asked if new leases would reduce Biden’s climate goals, Psaki stated that they are not in line either with our policy or the president’s view.  

Psaki’s remarks were in response to a tweet by Deb Haaland, Interior Secretary, on Friday. She claimed that the court injunction had been lifted and she continues to appeal. I have used my authority and reduced by 80 percent the areas to be leased, imposed stringent environmental safeguards and ensured the American people get their fair share.   

Friday’s announcement by administration stated that the oil and natural gas leasing program will be relaunched with 173 parcels land. It was announced Monday that Wyoming would host 132,000 acres of land up for lease. They will be auctioned off in June.  

The move was criticized by environmentalists on the left who suggested that the administration should limit drilling.

What exactly is this injunction? The June 2021 court order, which the Biden administration is blaming, prevented the administration’s implementation of a pause by the president on new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters.  

Biden ordered a halt to new leasing of parcels of land that could be used for drilling bids on his first day in office.

The temporary pause was described to be temporary and will continue until the completion of a comprehensive review of Federal oil and natural gas leasing and permitting practices.  

However, the administration has now completed a review of this program, and issued a November report recommending modifications to the sale.   

Learn more about the messaging here.

Biden saves nuclear energy

The Biden administration will put $6 billion toward saving distressed nuclear power plants from closure, viewing the power source as another carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels.  

Tuesday saw the Department of Energy announce a new bidding procedure for submissions to the Civil Nuclear Credit program. The bidding process will be open for operators of plants that are otherwise at imminent danger of being shut down.  

The Biden administration has set a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and called recent closures of commercial reactors a major barrier to reaching that goal. In the first round, reactors that have announced their closure plans will be given priority.  

Twelve reactors were shut down before their licenses expired over the past decade. The U.S. Energy Information Administration anticipates that this will reduce the U.S. nuclear power by 10.5 gigawatts.  

U.S. nuclear power plants contribute more than half of our carbon-free electricity, and President Biden is committed to keeping these plants active to reach our clean energy goals, said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.  

You can read more about the plan to boost nuclear plants by Rad.

NEW REENEWABLES FOR PUBLIC LANDS

Clean energy on public lands is growing, with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) increasing its renewable energy permitting by 35 percent last fiscal year. 

A new report from the federal government said that the bureau authorized or facilitated 12 public lands projects and supported the development of 2,890  megawatts enough to power more than 300 million LED lights of generating capacity from onshore wind, solar and geothermal energy.  

This is a significant increase from the 2,148 megawatts in 2020 fiscal years. One of the 12 fiscal 2020 projects was approved by Trump in the last days of his administration, while the rest were approved by Biden during his administration.  

The Interior Department, which oversees this bureau, stated that it expects to support more renewable energy capacity than 10,000 by the end next year in a statement.  

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This would support almost twice the amount currently supported.  

The bureau’s efforts to promote clean energy were also highlighted in the new report. This included hiring new staff to help it achieve its clean energy goals. It also stated it was considering making further reductions to rents and fees for solar and wind projects located on public lands of California.  

You can read more about it here.

ON TAP TOMORROW

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold an open hearing on electric vehicles and critical minerals supply chains.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • For three months, a massive fire raged. Its emissions were not attributed to anyone. (The Washington Post).
  • Permian Basin poised for ‘surge’ in production as large oil and gas deals continue (Carlsbad Current Argus)
  • Environmental scientist accused of stealing secrets documents from powerful foundation (The Palm Beach Post).
  • China doubles down coal consumption (The New York Times).
  • Recycling legislation rots after a Michigan senator steals $30k from landfills

ICYMI

   And finally, something offbeat but kind of on-beat? 

Climate change is a better topic than celebrities.

That’s all for today. Thank you for reading. For the latest news and coverage, check out The HillsEnergy & Environment. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

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