Newly-elected President Biden is making ambitious moves in an effort to tackle climate change. From immediately rejoining the Paris climate agreement to halting federal land and water leases to oil and gas companies, Biden is making ambitious strides right out of the gate. But not everyone is happy with the progress.
White House officials are saying there will be a “pause” on new gas or oil leases on public land, and existing leases will be reviewed as well. Other plans in the works include a push for the government “to conserve 30 percent of all federal land and water by 2030”, the creation of a task force that will create action plans for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and the elevation of climate change to a “national security priority.”
Battle lines are being drawn
Extracting fossil fuels accounts for roughly a quarter of America’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also a huge revenue generator. Several state economies depend on the billions in revenue and royalties fossil fuel extraction provides, not to mention the oil and gas industry itself.
NPR reports that challenges are already promised. The president of Western Energy Alliance, Kathleen Sgamma, said, “We’ll be in court shortly.”
Lawsuits from fossil fuel companies aside, the real problem for progress in the climate fight lies in the Senate. The Biden administration can put the country on “the right trajectory,” but without legislation, it can only go so far. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will likely oppose any policy that would threaten his state’s coal industry. And Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) has already complained that Biden is attempting to “raise energy costs” and “kill even more American jobs”.
No time to waste
There are those that think Biden could take a more moderate approach, and proceed with “an orderly ramping down of oil and gas development on public lands.” This method may prevent states that depend on fossil fuel extraction for their economies from crashing and burning the way coal states have over the last decade.
However, this more-gradual approach to ending dependency on fossil fuels also means a gradual decline in greenhouse gas emissions. Science has been pretty clear on the fact that immediate action is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change outcomes.