Last week we celebrated three oil and gas well leases being canceled on U.S. coastal waters, preventing wide-reaching environmental effects, potential spills, and fossil fuel emissions. This news followed monumental events such as Exxon being sued for their contributions to climate change and oil wells being repurposed for geothermal pumps. It seems that all of this good news has empowered environmental groups. Several groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, the Western Environmental Law Center, and the WildEarth Guardians, are suing the Biden Administration in hopes of shutting down 3,500 new permits for oil and gas drilling.
The environmental groups filed the lawsuit in the District Court of Washington DC against the Bureau of Land Management, claiming that the permits would violate several federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act if placed into effect. Groups are concerned that the drilling from all of the permits will “damage ecosystems across the United States, and harm more than 150 climate-imperiled species, including Hawaiian songbirds, polar bears, and coral reefs.”
Although President Biden promised to stop drilling on federal public lands, the sharp increase in gas is pressuring him to make changes to help keep prices low. However, regardless of the approval of any new permits, oil drills wouldn’t be set up for months or even years to come making the impact a long way off. However, last week the President wrote a letter to seven oil refinery companies asking them to increase efforts to drill for more gasoline and diesel. When there’s inflation affecting everyone across the country, it’s hard to balance economic, societal, and environmental needs. Still, I wish there was more of an effort that was made. Increasing oil leases is not going to happen short term. It would be nice to see the Administration make an effort to provide citizens more significant incentives or better subsidies to help bring more electric vehicles onto the roads.
Kyle Tisdel, the program director at the Western Environmental Law Center, one of the groups suing the Administration, shared his concerns that “the federal government’s oil and gas program accounts for almost one-tenth of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the nation,” We can no longer ignore environmental concerns at times of crisis. With fire season around the corner for the West coast and hurricane season not long behind it, climate change concerns make these disasters much more dangerous. By ignoring environmental concerns and pushing for more and more oil drilling, we are only exacerbating the climate crisis.
When another crisis arises, it’s important to remember that the climate crisis is an ongoing problem that must be considered. Our government has to begin to address concerns and any new programs with a holistic approach. The Biden Administration has already promised to get more electric vehicles on the road and move towards a goal of having 50% of all cars be electric by 2030. Although President Biden has also set stricter policies on manufacturers to reduce vehicle emissions, this still does not make it easier for the average American family to buy an EV vehicle. Stricter policies on commercial entities that use up incomparable amounts of fossil fuels would also make a huge difference.
If this lawsuit succeeds, the benefits of blocking 3,500 leases will be incredible. However, it is time that this type of massive amount of new fossil fuel production not even be considered. We must start working towards holistic solutions that take into account economic, social, and environmental implications. How would you like to see the Administration tackle the energy crisis?
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Photo: Thomas Kelley on Unsplash