President Joe Biden made a campaign promise to “end fossil fuels.” While US oil production is nearing its pre-pandemic levels, the president has not made it easy for the industry.
In November, the Institute for Energy Research (IER) put together a list of 125 actions that the Biden administration and Democrats at the state and federal level have taken against oil, gas, and coal. The IER, a non-profit organization dedicated to free market energy research, recently updated the list to include the most recent actions up to April.
Alex Stevens, IER’s policy and communications manager, told Cowboy State Daily that he could have easily compiled a list of 160 stocks or more, but he wanted a round number.
Stevens said the update coincides with a change in the administration’s energy policies in recent months. With presidential elections approaching next year, he said the administration is trying to appear more moderate on the issue.
“The approval of the Alaska Willow Project, for example, was the administration extending sort of an olive branch,” Stevens said. “But don’t buy into the narrative that Biden is a moderate on these issues.”
Rick Whitbeck, Alaska state director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit that advocates for the energy industry, told Cowboy State Daily that the approval of the Willow project was a victory for Alaska and energy consumers, but in the context of other actions the administration has taken, its impact will be limited.
In approving the Willow project, the administration also issued new rules blocking 13 million acres of the 23 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska (NPR-A).
“Even a stopped watch is correct twice a day, as Biden surprised almost everyone with Willow’s approval,” Whitbeck said, but NPR-A’s 13 million acres off-limits to industry represent between 15 and 20 billion barrels of oil and almost 100 trillion cubic feet of gas.
“Make no mistake: Willow is a victory for America, but at what cost?” Whitbeck said.
Since the first day
The first four actions on the list occurred on the day Biden took office, January 20, 2021.
He canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, placed a moratorium on all oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, restored and expanded a policy to measure the social cost of carbon, and revoked executive orders from the Trump administration that they expanded the production capacity of the United States. energy nationwide.
Just a week later, he placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on public land. Since most of the oil and gas production in Wyoming takes place on public land, the moratorium was a blow to Cowboy State producers.
The updated list takes you from November 2022 to mid-April. In March, New York natural gas stoves prohibited in new buildings.
In April, the administration placed emissions mandates on automobiles to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles. In April, Biden banned an anti-ESG bill that would have rescinded a Labor Department rule that allowed fund managers to consider progressive political stocks in retirement fund investment.
What looms over Wyoming, which relies heavily on fossil fuels for its economic well-being, is what will happen if Biden is re-elected and no longer has to appear moderate on energy.
Ryan McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Wyoming Petroleum Association, told Cowboy State Daily that a second term from the Biden administration will allow those who want to remove oil and gas from the energy mix to pursue that goal.
“And there is no viable alternative to offset the power that industry supplies,” McConnaughey said.
Meanwhile, investors are also factoring in risk, he said, which isn’t helping the industry.
On the 2020 election campaign, Biden said he would withdraw the oil and gas leasing program. The moratorium he signed into law during his second week of August faced legal challenges, and leasing has continued at a much slower pace than previous administrations. The Inflation Reduction Act also increased costs for drillers.
“It made it harder and more heavily regulated for our operators to drill or just get permits. It has put the state of Wyoming at a disadvantage,” Rep. Cy Western, R-Big Horn, told Cowboy State Daily.
Almost independent of power
Western said that under the Trump administration, the United States was virtually energy independent, meaning the country’s producers could meet domestic demand.
“Now we’re in a position where we’re buying Middle Eastern oil from countries that aren’t exactly our allies, rather than producing this energy at home,” Western said.
In addition to the geopolitical disadvantage it puts the country, Western said it means the United States is consuming oil from countries with lax environmental and labor regulations.
McConnaughey said the administration, even with a second term, is unlikely to go so far as to eliminate leasing of public land entirely.
“If that happened, we as an association would vigorously uphold the law,” he said, referring to the 1920 Mineral Lease Act that requires the federal government to offer quarterly lease sales.
A federal leasing ban would also ruin Wyoming’s economy.
“It would be devastating,” McConnaughey said.
Contact Kevin Killough at [email protected]