Former Vice President Joe Biden seems on track to obtain the necessary Electoral College votes to secure the presidency, bringing immediate attention to his agenda for the upcoming year, particularly concerning energy matters and public lands development.
During the campaign, Biden reiterated his intention to impose a ban on fracking activities on public lands if elected, a significant policy shift that would carry significant ramifications for Western states.
Biden’s climate plan on his campaign website states the goal is “banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters” and in the final debate with President Trump, he stated there would be “no fracking or oil on federal lands.”
Biden had previously stated multiple times that there would be no fracking and no role for oil and gas, or other fossil fuels in his administration, but his campaign later revised those statements. Similarly, his running mate, Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), asserted during her own presidential campaign last year that she would unequivocally ban fracking.
Biden may face pressure from environmental activist groups on the left to fulfill his campaign promise of banning fracking on public lands if he expects to maintain their somewhat hesitant support. Western Wire has previously noted that these groups are seeking to wield influence in Biden’s administration and have commended his remarks about transitioning away from the oil industry.
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A study conducted by the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association indicates that implementing a proposed fracking ban on public lands could have devastating economic consequences for the state. The ban is projected to result in a nearly 50 percent reduction in oil and natural gas production, leading to the loss of 62,000 jobs and $1 billion in economic activity.
“We are committed to doing our part to reduce emissions and protect the environment, but we cannot slap millions of Americans with proposals that destroy jobs and ravage communities. Any serious energy proposal must recognize the fact that oil and gas will continue to play a major role in meeting our basic daily energy needs well into the future,” Flynn said.
A ban would result in a reduction of $3 billion in tax revenue to the state’s general fund, representing nearly 40% of the total budget. Education funding would be significantly impacted, with a loss of $1.4 billion in funding. Western Wire previously highlighted the substantial contributions made by oil and natural gas production to the state’s education and infrastructure budgets earlier this year.
Peggy Muller-Aragón, a prominent member of the Albuquerque Board of Education, emphasized the critical importance of funding derived from development activities on public lands for students.
“This past fiscal year, oil and natural gas contributed approximately $3 billion dollars to our economy with a whopping one-third of that going to educate our future generation. How can anyone say fracking hurts our state when it helps provide funding for students’ education, which is priceless,” Muller-Aragón said. “I have always believed education is the great equalizer, and New Mexico students are entitled to such an equalizer.”
“Our state is lifted by the oil and natural gas industry, not diminished, and politics should play no part in denying our children access to the best education,” she continued.
The American Petroleum Institute conducted an analysis of the consequences of a nationwide fracking ban on public lands. Their findings indicate that foreign oil imports would rise by 2 million barrels per day due to the fact that 12 percent of domestic natural gas production and 25 percent of oil production occur on public lands.
Remarkably, this prohibition on production activities on public lands would yield outcomes contrary to its intended purpose. Cleaner-burning natural gas has significantly contributed to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and a ban would lead to the utilization of dirtier fuels, consequently increasing emissions by 5 percent.
If Biden does move forward with a ban on public lands, environmental activists and some Democrats in control of the U.S. House may press to go even further with a full national ban – a goal they have made clear throughout the campaign.
Although such action would necessitate congressional approval and is likely to encounter strong bipartisan resistance, as indicated by the findings of the Global Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which estimate that it would result in the loss of 19 million jobs, a $7.1 trillion reduction in GDP, and a doubling of gasoline prices.
Under a Republican-controlled Senate, Biden would also experience pressure from activists such as Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org, to implement broad executive measures aimed at undermining oil and natural gas production.
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