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Two days into the Biden administration, the Interior Department has announced a federal block on oil and gas drilling on public lands. Pending the Senate confirmation of nominee Deb Haaland, acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega signed an order barring any new leasing, drilling, or mining on public lands for the next 60 days. Advocates hope that this order is only the first step in fulfilling a Biden campaign promise to ban all oil and gas drilling on public lands.
His assault on these public lands threatened wildlife, crucial ecosystems, and Indigenous sovereignty. The Biden Administration prioritizing public lands in the first days of his presidency gives the public hope that the administration will follow through on not only its promise to fight climate change but also to work with and lift up Indigenous communities.
Advocacy groups are optimistic. “For four years, the Trump administration cut legal corners and rushed through massive drilling and mining projects at the behest of corporations. Now the Biden administration is rightfully attempting to take stock of the damage and make sure the agency is following the law, instead of rubber-stamping destructive projects that were in the pipeline,” said Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director at the Center for Western Priorities. Once confirmed as Secretary, Haaland will have more power to further protections of public lands and solidify the Interior Department’s long-term plan.
Part of that plan may include restoring tribal lands to Indigenous groups and reversing Trump administration rollbacks of Obama era policies.
The Biden-Harris official plan for Tribal Nations aims to streamline the process of putting public lands into trust on behalf of tribes.
The Resistance: The fossil fuel industry is less than happy about the temporary ban and sees it as a move against American energy independence. Mike Sommers, President and CEO of The American Petroleum Institute (API) said in a statement, “Restricting development on federal lands and waters is nothing more than an ‘import more oil’ policy. Energy demand will continue to rise — especially as the economy recovers — and we can choose to produce that energy here in the United States or rely on foreign countries hostile to American interests.” He asserted that banning drilling on public lands would “only serve to hurt local communities,” but the Biden administration has a plan to fight that.
In addition to creating millions of clean energy jobs, the Biden administration has promised to lift up Indigenous communities by creating more than 250,000 local jobs to plug oil and gas wells reclaim abandoned coal, hard rock, and uranium mines.
Scaling production of EVs in the U.S. will require a ramp-up in domestic battery production. Now there’s good news on that front. A battery factory in Georgia can move forward after LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation (South Korean companies), two of the world’s biggest electric vehicle battery manufacturers, settled a dispute.
Why This Matters: The dispute threatened U.S. production of EVs. SK has contracts to produce batteries for electric Ford F-150 pickup trucks and Volkswagen SUVs.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Right now, 95% of American public school buses run on diesel fuel, but that could soon change thanks to part of the Biden administration’s massive infrastructure proposal. The new Clean Buses for Kids Program would electrify at least 20% of the country’s iconic yellow school bus fleet. It would […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer In February, the governors of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware voted unanimously to ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin, but Republican-led lawsuits are seeking to stop this action. The ban prevented the natural gas industry from blasting up to 4,000 wells in the basin, serving a blow to the […]
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