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Biden Is Allowing More Drilling on Public Lands and Waters Than Trump Did

The environment was a point of major concern among former President Donald Trump’s critics, with the Trump administration’s hefty rollout of federal lease sales to oil, gas and coal companies becoming a point of particular concern among people concerned about fossil fuels. They were cheered by President Joe Biden’s pledge to halt new federal oil or gas leasing but now, one year later, Biden is actually outpacing Trump on that front, issuing even more leases for drilling on federal land.

In 2021, the Biden Administration set a record for the largest offshore lease sale, and now the Interior Department will auction off drilling rights on about 200,000 acres of Western states throughout the spring and a million acres in Alaska. All told, it outpaces Trump’s own record on fossil fuels.

It’s a huge blow to climate activists who’d hoped Biden would follow through on pledges to listen to the science on climate change and put action towards his stated beliefs about the value of investing in clean energy. Many of Biden’s most ambitious plans have run afoul political challenges, but not all of the administration’s spotty environmental record can be blamed on a divided Congress. There is so far no plan to address the mining in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, which accounts for an enormous amount of the nation’s green house gas emissions.

More troublingly, the federal government has worked against several environmental groups. While Trump lifted former President Barack Obama’s coal moratorium shortly after taking office, the current federal government fought to kick out a lawsuit to restore the moratorium, arguing against it on a technicality.

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Jeremy Nichols, director of the climate and energy program at WildEarth Guardians, told Anchorage Daily News that “this administration seems to actually have a zeal for catering to the oil and gas industry, something that was very unexpected and now very distressing as the climate crisis ravages our nation.”

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