The Department of Interior Department will host a virtual forum on Thursday, March 25 to discuss how to end fossil fuel extraction from public lands.
The department, under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Acting Secretary Deb Haaland, is readying a rollback of Trump-era policies that brought energy independence to America.
“Fossil fuel extraction on public lands accounts for nearly a quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Multiple bills in Congress have been introduced in recent years to reform the program, including those to better ensure the public is not shut out of land management and leasing decisions; to address the mounting cleanup and remediation costs of orphan wells scattered across the country; and to provide a fair return to taxpayers for the use of their resources,” the department wrote in a press release on Tuesday.
The department specifically mentioned former President Donald Trump, saying “the Trump administration offered for lease more than 25 million acres of public land onshore and more than 78 million acres offshore for oil, gas and mineral development. While only 5.6 million onshore acres were purchased and 5 million offshore, this result clearly indicates that it is time for the Interior Department to take steps to better manage our public lands.”
The department continued in a political vein:
“The federal oil and gas program is not serving the American public well. It’s time to take a close look at how to best manage our nation’s natural resources with current and future generations in mind,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis. “This forum will help inform the Department’s near-term actions to restore balance on America’s lands and waters and to put our public lands’ energy programs on a more sound and sustainable conservation, fiscal and climate footing.”
Davis returned to the department after serving the past four years at the National Wildlife Federation. Earlier, she had served as Chief of Staff to Interior Secretaries Sally Jewell and Ken Salazar in the Obama administration.
The information gathered at the forum, which will be livestreamed, will “help inform an interim report from the Department that will be completed in early summer. The report will include initial findings on the state of the federal conventional energy programs, as well as outline next steps and recommendations for the Department and Congress to improve stewardship of public lands and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future. “
The Interior Department said it is conducting outreach to Members of Congress, Governors, Tribes, and other state and local elected leaders. Members of the public will be able to offer written comments to inform the interim report. Details on how to view the forum or submit comments will be forthcoming, the department said.