By Heather Richards
The Interior Department’s second in command this week pledged the Biden administration is orchestrating a paradigm shift for the federal oil program, explaining in unusually candid detail possible components of the strategy to restrain fossil fuel development on public lands.
“We are here to fundamentally reform the Interior Department’s oil and gas program,” Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau said during an interview with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.
Beaudreau said the federal oil and gas program was designed in a “bygone” era where the chief priority was clear: “Get it out of the ground to enhance domestic sources of energy supply.”
Now, the risks of climate change demand a fundamental shift in global energy use, and in that national program, he said. But it’s a complicated process because those laws were written to favor extraction of fossil fuels, he added.
Beaudreau noted several specific policy changes that are being considered and spoke favorably of raising royalty rates, as well as launching new rules around valuation of fossil fuels to limit how royalties are whittled down through exclusions and write-offs.
He also made a case for more cautious leasing, adopting policies that don’t prioritize first dibs for oil and gas operators on public lands that may have other values (E&E News PM, Oct. 29).
The Biden administration has come under fire from the left for not being more aggressive in ending the federal oil and gas program, even as lawmakers on the political right and industry have lambasted Interior as anti-oil (Energywire, Nov. 4).