President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a series of decrees to combat climate change. We are talking, in particular, about the suspension of the conclusion of new contracts for the lease of federal lands for oil and gas production and the reduction of subsidies for fossil fuels.
These decrees set the direction for the president’s environmental agenda, contrasting with the policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, to maximize U.S. oil, gas and coal production by lifting regulatory restrictions and easing environmental standards.
Biden’s focus on climate change has inspired international partners and environmentalists, but has angered oil majors, who say the moves will cost the country millions of jobs and billions of dollars.
Biden instructed the Interior Ministry to suspend the conclusion of new contracts for the production of oil and gas in federal lands and coastal waters, as well as to analyze the impact of the program on the climate and taxpayers.
The president aims to double the production of renewable energy from offshore wind by 2030 and to conserve 30 percent of the federal lands and waters in the interests of protecting the environment.
The decrees affect large areas of land – mainly in the western states, as well as waters where offshore drilling is carried out, mainly in the Gulf of Mexico. Together, they account for about a quarter of the country’s oil and gas production. The initiative drew criticism from the states, in whose economies drilling revenues play a large role.
As previously reported in a White House press release, one of the president’s initiatives is to instruct federal agencies to end fossil fuel subsidies.
Climate Special Envoy John Kerry spoke about the planned actions during the World Economic Forum’s virtual summit in Davos on Wednesday, saying the initiatives highlight the centrality of climate action to Biden’s political agenda.
Energy company Hess Corp CEO John Hess urged the administration to consider the potential implications of the above initiatives on the labor market and energy security.
“They need to recognize that oil and gas is the strategic engine of the US economy … oil and gas are playing a key role in economic recovery,” Hess said.
Abraxas Petroleum CEO Bob Watson said he was worried about the economic impact of the planned measures in the current crisis.
Liberals from his own party are also criticizing Biden, demanding more decisive action to combat climate change. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday urged Biden to declare a national emergency over the issue, allowing the president to use additional resources to meet his goals.
The new decrees also state that the administration plans to hold an international climate summit on Earth Day (April 22), create new positions and an interagency task force on climate change, and increase public procurement of US-produced green energy and vehicles, stimulate scientific -technical development and assistance to the communities most affected by industrial pollution.
Biden’s new initiatives include a task force directed to government agencies to develop policies to address disproportionate impacts on health, the environment, the economy, and the climate in poor and minority areas.