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 …
When President Trump took office in 2017, the Department of the Interior quickly moved to lease nearly all offshore lands for oil and gas development. The map was astounding; for decades, there had been relatively limited drilling in offshore waters, and many state officials and advocates were shocked to see a proposal for such extensive leasing of offshore federal lands. Indeed, notoriously conservative Rick Scott of Florida entered into a handshake deal with former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to avoid drilling near the state. Trump's Interior Department also attempted to lease vast swaths of onshore public lands for fossil fuel development.
President Biden has predictably followed a different approach, announcing his intent to place a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal onshore and offshore lands. This is a sensible solution.
The United States is already working to transition to more low-carbon energy production, and oil …