This op-ed was originally published in the Baton Rouge Advocate.
A week after taking office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order “on tackling the climate crisis” that includes important measures to address the crisis comprehensively and equitably. Specifically, the order directs the federal government to take a “whole of government” approach to the climate crisis that pursues economic security, ensures environmental justice, and empowers workers.
The beginning of such a plan is promising, particularly after four years under an administration that wiped the word “climate” from government websites, rolled back the Obama administration’s steps to address the crisis, and made fossil fuel production a centerpiece of its agenda.
But it’s just that — a promising beginning. And it’s already under assault. The American Petroleum Institute, the nation’s largest oil and gas lobbying group, immediately attacked the order, and particularly its directive to pause new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and offshore waters. The industry not only launched a nationwide PR campaign decrying the new leasing pause, but also filed a lawsuit challenging it.
At first blush, this strong reaction seems odd given that the federal leasing pause, like everything else in Biden’s climate order, is at most the beginning of a plan to make the necessary transition away from fossil fuels. At this stage it is, after all, only a pause.
It appears baffling for other reasons too.
Read the full op-ed in the Baton Rouge Advocate.