As one of his first acts upon entering office, President Biden placed an indefinite pause on new oil, natural gas, and coal leasing on public lands. Now fourteen states are suing to overturn this moratorium.
Louisiana is leading a lawsuit with 13 other states suing to overturn the ban. Wyoming has filed its own suit. At the center of contention is whether President Biden can indefinitely stop allowing certain energy leases on public land. The states in the lawsuits have significant public lands within their borders. They contend that their economy will be significantly affected if this leasing is barred.
When he came into office, President Biden issued an executive order halting new leases for fossil fuel development on lands controlled by the federal government. This included new offshore drilling leasing, something that affects Louisiana greatly. Existing leases would remain intact. The federal government owns considerable property, especially in western states, and much of that is open for mining and energy development. Offshore oil and natural gas exploration is also permitted in some federally-controlled areas of the Gulf of Mexico and around Alaska.
The president and environmentalists consider such leases as giveaways to large corporations. They also say that this leasing helps perpetuate the use of energy sources that pollute the environment. Supporters of the leases argue that it is better to develop U.S. resources than rely on foreign nations for America's energy needs. They also point out that energy production on federal lands supports good-paying jobs in areas that have few other economic options.
This executive order is part of a larger Biden agenda that envisions the U.S. moving from the use of fossil fuels to the use of renewable forms of energy. Much of this plan must be enacted by Congress, but the president can take some steps via executive order. This order is not a permanent end to federal fossil fuel leases, which would require a change in U.S. law, but a temporary moratorium. However, critics say that if a temporary moratorium has no end date, then it in effect acts like a permanent ban.
There are indications that the Biden Administration is considering action that would end this type of energy leasing on federal land, not just have it subject to a temporary moratorium. However, unless Congress acts, a new president could reverse this action.
Do you think that the federal government should resume leasing land for oil, natural gas, and coal development?