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Since President Biden’s first week in office, he has fulfilled his campaign promise of suspending the program of leasing federal land for oil and gas production through his direction of the Department of the Interior. However, Monroe U.S. District Court Judge Terry A. Doughty, appointed during the Trump administration, issued a preliminary injunction to block the pausing of new oil and gas leases claiming Biden is overstepping his power and that it must be done with congressional approval.
The Big Picture
While this action from the Biden administration certainly is not new news and is to be expected, it is the blocking of this campaign promise from Judge Doughty that marks an important inflection point in the administration’s goal for a clean and green economy. However, Judge Doughty is not alone as thirteen southern and coastal states, including Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, have also filed lawsuits citing that "millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake," as well as the fact that "local government funding, jobs for [workers in the states that sued], and funds for the restoration of Louisiana’s Coastline are at stake."
In the face of the Biden administration’s goal of creating a green and clean economy, many promises made on their campaign trail directly contradict their action of pausing the leases of federal land. Vice President Kamala Harris said “Joe Biden will not end fracking, he has been very clear about that… I will repeat, and the American people know that Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact. That is a fact.”
Despite this “fact,” Joe Biden has said: “No more, no new fracking” in agreement with Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) at the March 2020 debate and “I want you to just take a look … I want you to look at my eyes. I guarantee you we’re going to end fossil fuel” when speaking to a voter in September 2019.
The oil and gas industry represents a large portion of employment in not just southern and coastal states, but also the country as a whole making up 5.6 percent of total U.S. employment according to PwC. Further, it is during periods of recovery such as now that the oil and gas industry is needed most as according to the Texas Comptroller, Texas has recovered 100% of the jobs lost during the Great Recession and is continuing to surpass its previous peak in 2008.
Why It Matters
The blocking of the Biden administration’s action of halting the growth of the oil and gas industry on federal land marks a significant event in the relationship between the free market and the environment focused and green thumbed wishes of the government.
Each stroke of the pen from the Biden administration, many of these actions done without the required congressional approval, means the wiping out of millions of jobs of hardworking Americans as well as the tapering off of much needed growth in the midst of a recovering economy.