What the Senate climate deal could mean for public lands

Aug 3, 2022

new post from the Center for Western Priorities breaks down what the Inflation Reduction Act would mean for the oil and gas leasing system on public lands, what the challenges are for the bill to pass, and how President Biden could act on climate if it doesn’t. The bill makes unprecedented investments in fighting climate change as well as major reforms to the federal onshore oil and gas leasing program, though it also includes some counterproductive measures that would lock in years of new leasing on public lands.

With Manchin’s support, the question is whether or not Schumer can get the bill to President Biden’s desk before the Senate’s recess beginning August 8. First, the non-partisan parliamentarian will decide how much of the bill is budget-related and can move through the reconciliation process. Then, the 50-50 vote will require every Democrat to be present, which could be challenging given at least one Democrat currently has COVID-19another is recovering from a broken hip, and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has not announced whether or not she’ll support the bill. After passing the Senate, the bill has to pass in the House, where progressive Democrats could find fault with the bill, though some progressives have indicated they’ll support it.

If the bill defies the odds and becomes law, the Interior Department will find itself facing a daunting task: implementing a massive overhaul of the hundred-year-old oil and gas leasing system. The requirements of the bill, ranging from the new fee on nominating parcels for leasing, to paying royalties on wasted methane, to updated bonding requirements for drillers, will require rulemakings and instructional memoranda across the Interior Department. This process could take months or even years.

Whether or not the bill passes, President Biden will need to take action if he wants to reach his own goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent by 2030. To start, he could announce a climate emergency, which would signal to the world that the U.S. is taking climate change seriously as well as give Biden extra power to do things like end oil exports and require companies to manufacture more clean energy infrastructure.

Quick hits

Federal government suspends new drilling and fracking leases on public lands in Central California

Los Angeles Times | Associated Press | Center Square

Feds set rules for fossil hounds collecting on Department of Interior lands

E&E News | National Parks Traveler

California’s megadrought is worse than you think

E&E News

The fires below: how wildfires are sparked by burning coal seams

High Country News

Colorado shuts down “illegal” mining operation upstream from drinking water sources

Colorado Sun

BLM agrees to reconsider grazing at sensitive Arizona site

E&E News

Opinion: The world is ablaze and the oil industry just posted record profits. It’s us or them

The Guardian

Opinion: What big oil knew about climate change — in its own words

Daily Montanan

Quote of the day

Protecting public lands is not only a step forward, but also a way to prevent several steps back. Using public lands to prop up the oil industry is dangerous to our green spaces and communities. We must protect our public lands not only for us to enjoy, but for us to protect Earth.”

—Cesar Aguirre, senior organizer with the Central California Environmental Justice Network, Los Angeles Times

Picture this

bighorn sheep

‘Til the ‘lambslide’ brought me down…⁣Time will make them bolder, as they get older. We’re all getting older too. Image: A bighorn sheep ewe is standing with three lambs on slanted terrain at @yellowstonenps.

(featured image: Drilling on BLM land in Wyoming, BLM Wyoming)