President Joe Biden yesterday signed an executive order to begin halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters. While environmental activists have cheered the decision, this shortsighted political move will have real and lasting impacts on American families.
According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), more than 12 percent of U.S. natural gas production and nearly a quarter of U.S. oil production comes from drilling on federal lands and waters. Demand for fossil fuels won’t drop 12 percent overnight, and renewables are not in a position to fully supplant that need. Therefore, foreign oil and gas – likely from foreign nations that don’t share American democratic ideals – will be left to fill this void. This weakens our nation’s geopolitical influence, blocking progress to achieving our foreign policy goals.
The economic impact of this decision is disastrous as well, with potential losses of nearly 1 million jobs by 2022, more than $9 billion in government revenue at risk, and U.S. households spending a cumulative $19 billion more on energy by 2030. High energy-producing states with large areas of federal lands, such as New Mexico and Wyoming, stand to lose not only thousands of industry jobs, but also billions in state revenue that could hurt public services, schools, infrastructure, and healthcare.
We cannot ignore the environmental impacts, either. According to API, U.S. CO2 emissions could increase by an average of 58 million metric tons and keep rising to represent a 5.5% increase in the power sector by 2030. The current transition from coal to natural gas could be delayed, keeping half the coal capacity that would otherwise be retired by 2030. And total U.S. coal use could increase by 15% by 2030.
President Biden’s ban on federal leasing presents serious economic, environmental, and national security concerns. Now more than ever, we need solid policies that can help lift the United States and American people out of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic spiral. This isn’t the way.