On Wednesday, President Joe Biden is set to temporarily suspend all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands pending an administrative review, part of an early blitz of executive orders seeking to undo former President Donald Trump’s denialist legacy on climate.
Although the move is a first step toward Biden’s campaign promise to ban new drilling leases, it is more of a political statement, experts say, than a policy change. The pause will have little immediate effect on an industry that stockpiled federal leases and permits to drill on public lands and waters in the final weeks of the Trump administration.
“This really is just about symbolism,” said Andrew Logan, the oil and gas program director at Ceres, an investor-focused climate nonprofit. “This will not significantly impact the direction of the U.S. energy industry in the short term.”
“It used to be the ‘war on coal,’” said Clark Williams-Derry, an oil analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a nonprofit that tracks the industry’s finances. “If it turns into the war on oil, you’re going to miss a golden opportunity to actually realign the strategy for oil country.”
[Alexander Kaufman and Chris D’Angelo]