Reducing drilling leases is tantamount to killing the industry,
say some proponents of hydraulic fracturing
Fracking advocates are fighting crazy over President Biden’s new executive orders aimed at curbing oil and gas drilling, with some believing that the new measures effectively break his promise not to ban hydraulic fracturing.
Biden on Wednesday signed an order suspending leases on oil and gas on federal land, and the White House announced it would begin a “tough review” of all existing fossil fuel leases and permissible practices.
“Let me be clear, and I know it always comes. We are not going to ban hydraulic fracturing,” Biden said after signing the decree. It was the promise he traded in swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio that led him to victory.
Some critics don’t buy it.
“It’s a de facto ban on hydraulic fracturing,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told Fox News in an interview about the new order, even though his state could lose 30,000 jobs.
A senior energy industry official agreed.
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“He said bluntly that he’s not going to ban hydraulic fracturing,” American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers told Fox News in an interview. “It rings a little hollow.”
Sommers agreed that the combination of the order imposed on Wednesday in connection with the imposition of a moratorium on the lease of new oil and gas fields on federal lands combined with the Interior Department’s order to freeze leases on drilling for 60 days, as well as a “de facto ban on hydraulic fracturing.”
Banning fracking directly, as environmentalists have called for, will pass an act of Congress and be subject to various lawsuits.
Biden’s Order Effects Fracking Industry:
Others say Biden’s orders will do little to hurt the fracking industry because many major oil and gas producers have existing leases they haven’t drilled for.
“Currently, the oil and gas industry have existing leases for enough federal land and ocean water to cover the state of Georgia. Those leases are not affected,” Bob Dean, a spokesman for the National Resources Defense Council, told Fox News.
“The industry has not yet been awakened on more than half of this land. In other words, the industry has enough untapped federal land and ocean space right now to cover two-thirds of South Carolina. That’s enough, industry leaders have said, to keep the industry busy for years.”
The Wildlife Society has pushed back against Sommers’ assertion that hydraulic fracturing would be a big blow to Biden’s order. Chase Huntley, the Wildlife Society’s director of energy and climate programs, said the industry had already accumulated both leases and permits.
“After years of handing out government resources at fire sales prices, industry analysts have made it clear that the industry has more rental stocks and permits than they could ever hope to use in the current market environment. Claims to the contrary are simply not credible,” Huntley said in a statement to Fox News.
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Last month, 25 Republican senators introduced a bill banning Biden from blocking the issuance of electricity permits and leasing without congressional approval. Barrasso was one of the senators who co-sponsored the bill.
“President Biden said he was going to unify the country, but he did one controversial thing after another. Since he left to give the inaugural address, he drove down Pennsylvania Avenue pulled into the White House, he threw all the unity talk out the window, basically pulled up his presidential pen and drew a big target on the back of American energy,” Barrasso said.
A 60-day pause last week stripped agencies and Interior Department bureaus of their authority to issue drilling leases or permits while the administration reviews the effects of the federal mining leasing program, according to an Interior Department memo.
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Biden has the right only to stop renting federal land. About 22 percent of U.S. oil drills from federal lands and waters and about
14 percent of natural gas, according to the API, which represents the oil industry. Drilling on federal lands generated nearly $6 billion in government revenue last year.
Energy companies have stocked up on these leases, anticipating potential losses for Trump, which means they can continue to develop as long as they have permission to drill for oil and gas.
“What a lot of my member companies did in the API when there was a lease sale under the Trump administration, they purchased a bunch of leases expecting Biden to fulfill his campaign promises and limit the number of new leases on fed land and water,” Sommers said.
Sommers said the question would be whether they would be able to obtain drilling permits on the land they had rented. “They have a leased bank, they can continue to develop if they can get permission to drill. It’s great if.”
“What we expect is a significant slowdown in the permitting process through the Bureau of Land Management,” he said.
The Home Office issued a statement saying existing leases “continue to be reviewed and approved.”
The Chamber of Commerce, which supports Biden’s climate focus, said they do not support ending the new leases.
“While we have welcomed a lot of what the administration is trying to do and are committed to working in partnership, this is an area where we don’t support it,” Marty Durbin, senior vice president of policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told Fox News.
“It’s one thing to say that we won’t be doing some additional reviews from an environmental point of view, you don’t have to stop new leases to do so.”
Biden administration issues 31 new drilling permits federal lands and waters since taking office, despite recent executive orders.