Tag: Biden administration

BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program at a New Frontier

A decades-long effort to reform the federal program that manages free-roaming wild horses and burros throughout the West faces a new challenge in a recent lawsuit filed by the American Wild Horse Campaign (“AWHC”).

The Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (“Act”) vests the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) with the responsibility to manage and protect wild horses and burros across nearly 27 million acres of public land in the West.[i] According to recent surveys, 100,000 wild horses and burros live on these lands,[ii] yet the BLM estimates that the area can only sustain about 27,000.[iii]

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How Grid Resiliency can Help Tackle Climate Change

Americans are experiencing the impacts of climate change on an increasingly acute level every day. The February storms across the nation that resulted in rolling blackouts across Texas and several other nearby states underscored the crisis and raised questions about whether the American electricity grid can withstand the negative effects of climate change, such as extreme temperatures, more frequent and intense storms, floods, wildfires, droughts, and more.

Since 2011, the United States has sustained $135 billion in damages from extreme weather and climate disasters, with more than seventy extreme climate events affecting the Midwest.[i] One recent study showed that investor-owned utilities face a $500 billion resilience investment gap.[ii]

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BLM Poised to Expand Renewable Energy Development on Federal Lands Despite Revoking Amendments to Desert Renewable Energy Plan

The Biden administration recently issued a decision walking back proposed amendments to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP)[i] which, if adopted, would have opened 800,000 acres of land in the California desert for renewable energy development.[ii] Conservation advocates praised the decision while renewable energy developers lamented the loss of an opportunity to expand solar and wind generation in the region.[iii]

Developed during the Obama Administration, the DRECP sets aside nearly 11 million acres of public lands in the California desert for renewable energy development and conservation projects.[iv] Billed as a collaboration between federal and state partners including the California Energy Commission, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, BLM, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the DRECP seeks to capitalize on the region’s abundant sun, wind, and geothermal resources while also preserving the area’s ecological diversity.[v]

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Analyzing Three Major Priorities under New FERC Chair Glick

Soon after taking office, President Biden nominated Richard Glick, a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as the Commission’s new chair.[i] Though the Commission is expected to maintain a Republican majority until Commissioner Neil Chatterjee’s term ends June 30, Glick has begun shifting the priorities of FERC, which regulates the interstate transmission and sale of electricity, natural gas, and oil, to align with President Biden’s ambitious energy and environmental goals.[ii] The following examines Glick’s three main priorities under the new administration, each of which could substantially change the energy regulatory landscape.

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Oil and Gas Royalty Rates on Public Lands Under Review by Biden Administration

President Biden’s climate plans include a review of federal and state royalty rates paid by private companies for access to fossil fuel reserves underneath public lands.[i] On January 27, Biden issued Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” urging aggressive domestic policy directives.[ii]

The Order directed the Secretary of the Interior to pause the issuance of new oil and gas leases for drilling rights on federal lands until the Secretary completes a “comprehensive review” of oil and gas permitting requirements.[iii] The Secretary subsequently issued Order No. 3395 (“the Order”), which directed the pause on approving new leases for fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and ordered the comprehensive review of federal royalty rates.[iv]

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Biden’s Moratorium on Public Lands Drilling Leases will have a Muted Impact–at Least in the Short-term

One week after his inauguration, President Biden issued Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” (the Order), a move consistent with the progressive environmental platform he championed during his campaign.[i] The Order lays out aggressive domestic policy mandates and reaffirms the Biden Administration’s commitment to leading the global effort to combat the climate crisis.[ii]

As part of the sweeping domestic policies set forth in the Order, President Biden directed the Secretary of Interior (the Secretary) to pause new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters.[iii] The Order does not specify the length of the moratorium, but does prohibit the issuance of any new leases until the Secretary conducts a “comprehensive review” of the current oil and gas permitting requirements under law.[iv]

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How the Biden Administration Can Use Executive Action to Advance its Energy and Environmental Policies

President-elect Joseph R. Biden faces a challenging road to inauguration day. But that road may be nothing compared to the to-do list waiting for him on January 21. The global pandemic and a struggling national economy are first-order priorities, but in addition to these emergent issues, energy and environmental policies were important topics for many voters during the election.[i]

Biden campaigned on a platform championing clean energy and environmental justice.[ii] Depending on the outcome of two senate runoff elections in Georgia, however, the president-elect may have to realize much of his administration’s climate and clean energy policies through executive action.[iii]

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