Energy & Environment

Haaland calls for ‘balance’ in federal oil and gas program

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Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM), President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior, testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resource, at the U.S. Capitol on February 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Rep. Haaland’s opposition to fracking and early endorsement of the Green New Deal has made her one…

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Thursday said that she wants to see “balance” brought to oil and gas leasing and permitting as her department wraps up a review of these programs. 

“We need a balanced approach to this issue,” she told reporters. “We knew that our public lands emit 25 percent of the carbon into the atmosphere. There’s an imbalance there.”

Between 2005 and 2014, emissions from fossil fuels produced on federal lands have accounted for — on average —  nearly a quarter of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Asked for more detail on this balance, the top public lands official brought up clean energy deployment and considerations for climate change. 

“We’re moving clean energy forward on our public lands, right? And that’s the kind of balance I’m talking about. It’s also about thinking about where we are in this climate catastrophe,” she said. 

And asked what would make reform more meaningful, Haaland suggested that taxpayers aren’t getting their money’s worth from public lands. 

“Americans, they haven’t necessarily been getting a fair return on their investment in these public lands,” she said. “I can’t be as specific as I would like to today, but I do feel that fairness is absolutely one of the things we need to infuse into the programs and I hope that we can move forward with that soon.”

Haaland’s new comments come after department official Laura Daniel-Davis told lawmakers this week that the report on the program will be published “very soon” and that it was undergoing an interagency and White House review process. 

The department had previously said the report would be released in the early summer. 

When he was on the campaign trail, President Biden had called for a ban on new oil and gas permitting on public lands and in public waters and for increasing fees that companies pay to drill to account for climate costs. 

Asked Thursday if her call for balance implied that oil and gas would still be part of the equation, Haaland reiterated past comments that oil and gas will “continue for years to come.”

“I also said in my confirmation hearing that gas and oil would continue for years to come,” she said. “It’s not something that we can just change tomorrow.”
Tags Deb Haaland Interior Department Joe Biden oil and gas public lands

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