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    US energy lobby wants federal lands ban ended


The American Petroleum Institute says the pause is a detriment to broader energy and environmental goals.

by: Daniel Graeber

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US energy lobby wants federal lands ban ended

The American Petroleum Institute (API) on April 15 called on the US interior secretary to lift the pause on new oil and gas leases on federal land for the sake of the economy and the environment.

President Joe Biden, in one of his first acts of office, paused new leasing of drilling rights on federal lands. After former president Donald Trump dismantled regulations for the sake of energy dominance, Biden’s move along the path of energy transition put the US oil and gas sector on its back foot.

Kevin O’Scannlain, the lobbying group’s vice president for upstream policies, urged interior secretary Deb Haaland to lift the temporary ban.

Along with many in the oil and gas sector, the API has softened its stance on climate policy, adding it advocated for congressional funding to support research into low-carbon technologies ranging from carbon storage to hydrogen fuel development.

“The US is now the global leader in both emissions reductions and energy production, thanks to the innovation and vitality of the US oil and natural gas industry,” O’Scannlain said. “Enacting these policies means only that we will likely import more oil and natural gas from countries with lower environmental standards and could revert back to coal for power generation, resulting in higher emissions domestically, precisely the opposite of the administration’s intended effect.”

API’s stance on federal regulations follows a decision by a county commission in oil- and gas-rich Colorado to pause drilling. A representative in Larimer County, near the border of Wyoming, confirmed for NGW that the county board of commissioners approved a temporary moratorium through September 15 while they update and amend county regulations.

Colorado counties under a state senate bill passed in 2019 are entitled to enact regulations on oil and gas operations that can be stricter than state-level rules. API joined the Colorado Oil & Gas Association in describing the rule as one that could cripple that state’s energy industry. They said that if the rule curbed Colorado gas production by 50% by 2030, it would remove $8bn in tax revenue from state and local coffers.

For the federal restrictions, drillers last bid in December for rights in Colorado, one of the national leaders in oil and gas development. API’s O’Scannlain said the restrictions on federal land could not only complicate US efforts to play a more influential role in the global market, but get in the way of the energy transition.

US producers are already sending crude oil and natural gas to the global market, and LNG in particular can serve as a bridge to a cleaner future.

“US LNG exports will be critical to achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement – models show that this important agreement cannot be achieved without access to natural gas that provides a path to transition countries toward a lower-carbon future while ensuring millions of people in developing nations gain and keep access to electricity,” O’Scannlain said.