Biden Reportedly Prepared To Issue Moratorium On Fossil Fuel Leases For Federal Lands

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President Joe Biden is reportedly set to temporarily halt new federal oil and gas leasing, people familiar with his plans told The Washington Post.

The move would pause pending fossil fuel auctions on federal land and water, but will not affect existing leases in the Gulf Coast and the western part of the country, according to the Post. While the moratorium will help Biden deliver on one of his signature campaign promises, it will likely be met with sharp resistance from fossil fuel industries and lawmakers who have voiced concern that Biden’s climate policies will cost thousands of jobs.

Biden is expected to outline his climate change plan on Wednesday, which is centered around curbing greenhouse gas emissions and investing renewable, sustainable sources of energy. He said during the campaign that he would spend up to $2 trillion combatting climate change, and called it an “imminent, existential threat to our way of life.”

Biden’s expected move would create an “opportunity to fix the leasing system for the first time in nearly four decades with solutions that work for the public and which incorporate ambitious conservation, taxpayer fairness, and climate goals,” an analyst at the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress told the Post.

“We can make sure our public lands and coasts are preserved, accessible and beneficial to everyone – not abused by oil and gas corporations,” she added.

But fossil fuel groups were quick to criticize Biden’s plan, warning that it could harm state and local governments, as well as the industry’s workers.

“Restricting development on federal lands and waters is nothing more than an ‘import more oil’ policy,” said Mike Sommers, the president of the American Petroleum Institute. “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.”

Biden signed a series of climate change-related executive orders on his first day in office, including one that halted fossil fuel leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He also rejoined the Paris Climate Accords and blocked further construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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