Biden to pause oil and gas leases, cut subsidies in climate action

By Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden was set on Wednesday to sign executive actions to combat climate change, including pausing new oil and gas leases on federal land and cutting fossil fuel subsidies as he pursues green policies in stark contrast to those of his predecessor Donald Trump.

Reuters January 28, 2021 00:14:41 IST
Biden to pause oil and gas leases, cut subsidies in climate action

Biden to pause oil and gas leases cut subsidies in climate action

By Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden was set on Wednesday to sign executive actions to combat climate change, including pausing new oil and gas leases on federal land and cutting fossil fuel subsidies as he pursues green policies in stark contrast to those of his predecessor Donald Trump.

The orders map out the direction for the Democratic president's climate change and environmental agenda and mark a reversal from Trump, a Republican businessman-turned-politician who sought to maximize U.S. oil, gas and coal output by removing regulations and easing environmental reviews.

Biden's focus on climate change has cheered international partners and environmental advocates, but upset Big Oil, which argues that the moves will cost the United States millions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue at a time when the U.S. economy has been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House said Biden will direct the Interior Department to pause new federal oil and gas leases on public lands or offshore waters "to the extent possible" and review the program's climate impacts and taxpayer benefits. The pause will not restrict energy activities on lands that the government holds in trust for Native American tribes, it added.

Biden will call for a "rigorous review" during the pause of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, the White House said. Biden also will seek to double renewable energy production from offshore wind and by 2030 and set a goal to conserve 30% of federal land and waters to protect wildlife, also by 2030.

The orders will impact large swathes of land onshore in mostly Western states, as well as offshore drilling acreage located mainly in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, which combined make up about a quarter of the nation's oil and gas supply. Word of the measure has drawn criticism from some states that depend on drilling revenue.

Biden will also direct federal agencies to "eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law," according to a White House fact sheet. It was not clear which subsidies could be stripped away under this order, given many of the industry's tax breaks are congressionally approved.

U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry touted the executive orders during the virtual summit of the Davos-based World Economic Forum on Wednesday, saying they show that Biden has made climate change the "centerpiece of his presidency."

'A STRATEGIC ENGINE'

John Hess, CEO of energy company Hess Corp, said the Biden administration must keep in mind the impacts of its climate change agenda on jobs and energy security.

"They have to realize that oil and gas are a strategic engine for the U.S. economy. ... oil and gas play a key role in the economy's recovery," Hess told Wall Street analysts.

Abraxas Petroleum CEO Bob Watson separately told Reuters, "In my many years in this business, this is the worst downturn I have lived through, and this is not going to help a recovery. There's still going to be demand for oil and gas for my lifetime, anyway, and I'm just worried about the impact it will have on the broader economy."

Biden also faces pressure from liberals in his own party for aggressive action to address climate change. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday called on Biden to declare a national emergency on climate change, calling such a move "a giant step in the right direction" that would let the president tap additional resources to achieve his goals.

The new orders include an announcement that Biden will host an international climate summit on Earth Day April 22, the creation of new climate change positions and an inter-agency task force within his government, and measures to boost government procurement of U.S.-sourced clean energy and vehicles, boost science, and assist communities most affected by industrial pollution.

Biden also will instruct agencies to develop policies to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic and climate impacts on poor and minority neighborhoods.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason in Washington; Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner, Makini Brice and Lisa Lambert in Washington, Gary McWilliams in Houston and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply

also read

Ethiopia's regional Tigray forces name conditions for peace with government
World

Ethiopia's regional Tigray forces name conditions for peace with government

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Forces fighting Ethiopia's military in the Tigray region laid out eight conditions on Friday for beginning peace talks, including the appointment of an international mediator and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered air strikes and a ground offensive against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) - the former ruling party in the northern region - after regional forces attacked federal army bases in the region on Nov.

Citigroup considering divestiture of some foreign consumer units - Bloomberg Law
Business

Citigroup considering divestiture of some foreign consumer units - Bloomberg Law

(Reuters) - Citigroup Inc is considering divesting some international consumer units, Bloomberg Law reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter. The discussions are around divesting units across retail banking in the Asia-Pacific region, the report https://bit.ly/3pD57WP said

Biden tours Pfizer vaccine plant as drugmaker promises to double supply
World

Biden tours Pfizer vaccine plant as drugmaker promises to double supply

By Alexandra Alper and Michael Erman PORTAGE, Mich. (Reuters) - U.S