The Interior Department took swift action to deliver on President Biden’s campaign pledge to block oil and gas drilling on public lands, freezing such leases for the next 60 days.
An order signed by Acting Secretary Scott de la Vega on Wednesday bars the department from pushing ahead with any new leasing or drilling permits. It also blocks any new major mining actions.
Biden’s climate plan calls for “banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters,” a pledge made by each Democratic candidate in the primary after the idea was first proposed by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Top Senate Democrat backs waiver for Biden Pentagon nominee Consumer bureau director resigns after Biden’s inauguration MORE (D-Mass.).
The 60-day timeline pauses a number of other actions at Interior, including any promotions for department staff or transfer of public lands back to the states.
Biden has nominated Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord | Biden nixes Keystone XL permit, halts Arctic refuge leasing | Interior secretary rescinds wilderness protection order before leaving office Record number of women to serve in Biden Cabinet Interior secretary rescinds wilderness protection order before leaving office MORE (D-N.M.) to lead the Interior Department, and her signature would be required to establish a permanent moratorium on new oil drilling on public lands.
Biden’s climate plan calls for putting the U.S. on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050, an effort that will require reducing use of fossil fuels.
“I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” Biden said in an October debate with former President TrumpDonald TrumpClinton, Bush, Obama reflect on peaceful transition of power on Biden’s Inauguration Day Arizona Republican’s brothers say he is ‘at least partially to blame’ for Capitol violence Biden reverses Trump’s freeze on .4 billion in funds MORE.
“It’s a big statement because the oil industry pollutes significantly. … It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time.”