Ten Months and One ‘Report’ Later, Interior Still Doesn’t Have a Plan for the Federal Oil and Natural Gas Program
DENVER – The Department of the Interior’s report on the federal oil and natural gas program, hidden in a release on Black Friday, provided little information about how the department plans to actually conduct a ”comprehensive review” of the program as ordered by the president back in January. The following is a statement in reaction to the report by Western Energy Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma:
"You know there’s something wrong with a policy when it’s released on a Friday, and even more so when it’s a holiday weekend. I could have written this report for Interior in a few weeks, as it’s nothing but the environmental talking points we’ve heard for years. The fact that it took them 10 months almost to the day from the president’s order is interesting, given they knew what they wanted to do even before President Biden was sworn in. I strongly suspect they were waiting for Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act since the House version contained these provisions plus more that would have basically erased federal oil and natural gas development off federal lands.
“Since it’s clear now that the Senate isn’t even starting from the House version, the likelihood of those provisions passing has dwindled considerably and an embarrassed Interior Department recognized it needed to get something out. Now that they have to do these things administratively, they still need to start rulemakings and this report isn’t even a plan for how and when they’re going to do so. All it says are things like ‘BLM should consider reforms,’ and ‘BLM should evaluate,’ but doesn’t provide concrete steps on what they’re going to do. There’s even less information in the release than meets the eye.
“While President Biden is urging Russia and OPEC to increase production, the Interior Department is erecting roadblocks to American production. Oil and natural gas from federal lands is among the most sustainably produced in the world, and certainly cleaner than the oil produced in Russia. Besides the stricter environmental controls on public lands, producers agree to extra measures to protect wildlife, reduce emissions, reduce water use, and ensure stewardship of the land.
“Further, the Interior Department continues to ignore diverse voices who have urged the administration to move forward with developing oil and natural gas in America. Democratic governors, minority community leaders, tribes, small businesses, and many others have voiced support for continued federal oil and natural gas development, but the administration prioritizes activists and environmentalists over bipartisan policymakers and a broad array of stakeholders.”
For more details about the Alliance’s stance on policies advocated by the Interior Department, please see our public comments submitted during the agency’s review process.
Additional Facts on Public Lands Leases
Congress also authorized permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the GAOA, with revenues coming exclusively from federal offshore leasing and production. In FY2021, Interior disbursed $976 million to the LWCF.
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