Interior regulatory agenda targets hot-button energy, public lands issues

Jan 6, 2023

The White House Office of Management and Budget released this week a semiannual document known as the Unified Agenda that outlines the administration’s regulatory efforts across all federal agencies. The release of the agenda prompted the Biden administration to acknowledge that it will miss several self-imposed deadlines for proposing major environmental rules, prompting concerns among climate advocates about the delays.

The regulatory to-do list for the Interior Department includes taking action on a number of high-profile energy and public lands issues, including rules advancing offshore renewable energy, reducing methane emissions, and updating regulations governing the management of wild horses and burros. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release in March a proposed permit system to allow for the otherwise prohibited take of migratory birds from wind power and other energy activities.

However, the release of the latest agenda reveals the administration is several months behind schedule en route to achieving these regulatory goals. Sam Sankar, senior vice president for programs at Earthjustice noted that if rules are issued near the end of Biden’s first term, a future Congress could overturn them using the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to scrap any regulation within 60 legislative days of its finalization by a simple majority vote.

“Certainly we would like to have seen some of these rules come out sooner, but what’s imperative is that they come out as soon as possible while being legally defensible,” Sankar said.

Podcast: Estonian company uses billions of gallons of Colorado River water to mine crude oil in Utah

On this episode of The Landscape, Kate and Aaron are joined by Grand Canyon Trust staff attorney Michael Toll to discuss a plan to mine hundreds of thousands of barrels of waxy crude oil in Utah near Dinosaur National Monument, using billions of gallons of Colorado River water.

A loophole in Utah law enabled an Estonian state-owned company called Enefit to buy 3.2 billion gallons of Colorado River water for just $10 in 2015. Now, Enefit wants to use that water to extract oil in the Uinta Basin using a novel method that is around 75 percent more carbon-intensive than traditional fossil fuel drilling. Toll discusses how Enefit acquired its massive water right and how the Grand Canyon Trust is fighting Enefit’s plan.

Quick hits

Experts warn Utah’s Great Salt Lake could vanish in five years

Salt Lake Tribune

Interior regulatory agenda targets hot-button energy, public lands issues

E&E News

Industry perceives “wiggle room” for Biden to limit oil and gas leasing

S&P Global

Corrected data show fracking and drilling produce more emissions than every Front Range vehicle in Colorado

Colorado Public Radio

Podcast: Estonian company uses billions of gallons of Colorado River water to mine crude oil in Utah

The Landscape

Consider the burying beetle: How 30×30 is key to stopping the global biodiversity crisis

The New York Times

Opinion: In the race to save biodiversity, water is getting its due


National parks ask visitors to “Leave No Trace.” Here’s what that means

USA Today

Quote of the day

”There is nothing really to stop them from complying with the letter of the law by offering a modest amount of acreage in areas that they know no one really wants to buy. That is fully within their discretion to do something like that, and there’s not much industry can do to really override that in any way.”

—Glenn Schwartz, director of energy policy at Rapidan Energy, S&P Global

Picture this

National monuments BINGO card

President Biden has SO MANY great opportunities to protect #publiclands and waters, starting with #AviKwaAme, which Biden has already promised to protect! We’re looking for at least 5 new #nationalmonument designations or conservation successes for a BINGO in 2023! #30×30

(featured image: Renewable energy development in the California Desert. Photo courtesy of Tom Brewster Photography, BLM Flickr)