Today, the Biden administration released its long-promised “comprehensive review” of the federal public lands oil and gas leasing system. Issuing news releases on Friday, the slowest news day of the week, is a media strategy to kill news. Today, the Biden administration took that approach to extreme lengths, issuing this news the Friday after Thanksgiving, when so many are away from their jobs and with family. That says more about this report than any news release ever could.
“We’re sympathetic to the political gauntlet the Biden administration must run, but it had a choice to run it with power, speed, and agility. Instead, it’s running that gauntlet weak, slow, and tentative,” said Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of the Western Environmental Law Center. “This report does little but rearrange the deck chairs of the federal public lands oil and gas program, treating these lands as nothing more than a commodity to be exploited by oil and gas CEOs and Wall Street investors. Changing royalty rates, minimum bids, and bonding levels are all good things to help the public get a fair return on drilling, but they neither meet the promise President Biden made to the American people regarding public lands nor address the urgency demanded by the climate crisis. This report landed with a deeply disappointing thud.”
This report is the much-discussed comprehensive review. It is not an “interim” report. No programmatic environmental review will be forthcoming.