The Biden administration has approved oil and gas drilling permits on public lands at a faster rate than the Trump administration did over its first three years, The Washington Post reports.
Despite Biden’s pledge to push for “no more drilling on federal lands,” an analysis by the left-leaning advocacy group Public Citizen found that his administration is speeding through new permits.
The Bureau of Land Management has approved 333 drilling permits per month in Biden’s first year in office, which is 35% higher than Trump’s first year when BLM approved 245 permits per month.
Biden’s rate is also higher than the 279 permits the agency doled out per month in 2018 and 284 per month in 2019, though it’s below the 2020 rate of 452 permits per month.
New permit approvals peaked in April with 652 but have decreased since.
Analysts call out Biden:
"From an environmentalist's point of view, this doesn't look great for Biden," Alan Zibel, the lead author of the report and the search director of Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project, told the Post.
"The president has basically only tried to tackle one side of the climate problem," added Jamie Henn, an organizer with the Build Back Fossil Free coalition. "He's talked a lot about building clean energy, but he hasn't done anything to stop fossil fuels. And you need to tackle both sides if we're going to address this crisis."
Legal issues get in the way:
Biden in his first week in office ordered the Interior Department to halt all new lease sales on public land but oil drillers and 14 Republican-led states sued over the order.
A Trump-appointed federal judge in Louisiana blocked the pause in June.
The Biden administration is appealing the decision.
"Permit reviews on legally maintained leases are required by law,” Interior spokesman Tyler Cherry told the Post. “At the same time, Interior is conducting a more comprehensive analysis of greenhouse gas impacts from potential oil and gas lease sales than ever before."
“President Biden kept his campaign promise and ordered a pause on oil and gas leasing on public lands, which the courts have subsequently blocked, mandating that the program continue,” a White House spokesperson said. “Interior’s Oil and Gas report reflects the current state of that program and it confirms what we have always known: that this program delivers a bad deal for American taxpayers and that it needs to be reformed. That’s why, just as President Biden promised he would do on the campaign trail, both the Department of the Interior and the Congress are advancing measures to modernize the program, minimize environmental impacts, including on the climate, and ensure that we are managing these resources to secure the best value for American taxpayers.”