U.S. President Joe Biden will take a batch of executive actions on Wednesday to combat climate change, including pausing new oil and gas leases on federal land, cutting fossil fuel subsidies and bolstering measures to protect poor and minority neighborhoods from pollution.
The orders will set the direction for the Democratic president’s climate change and environmental agenda and mark a reversal from his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, who sought to maximize U.S. oil, gas and coal output by removing regulations and easing environmental reviews.
Biden’s focus on climate change has cheered international partners and environmental advocates, but upset Big Oil, which argues that the moves will cost the United States millions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.
Biden will direct the Interior Department to pause new federal oil and gas leases on public lands or offshore waters “to the extent possible”. It must also review the program’s climate impacts and taxpayer benefits. The pause will not restrict energy activities on lands that the government holds in trust for Native American tribes, the White House said.
The White House said Biden will call for a “rigorous review” during the pause of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and seek steps to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030.
Biden will also set a goal to conserve 30% of federal land and waters to protect wildlife by 2030.
The orders will impact large swathes of land onshore in mostly Western states, as well as offshore drilling acreage located mainly in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, which combined make up about a quarter of the nation’s oil and gas supply.
Word of the measure has drawn criticism from some states that depend on drilling revenue.
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