Environmental activists are up in arms against Joe Biden, after his decision in mid-April to restart oil and gas production on federal lands in the United States, contrary to one of his promises the country. On April 27, more than 500 organizations from around the world sent an open letter to the American president criticizing his policy of expanding drilling and exports. “He is missing the opportunity to capitalize on an iconic moment in world history to move the United States and its European allies beyond reliance on fossil fuels,” regrets John Beard, the founder of the Texas association Port Arthur Community Network.
New drilling licenses will be auctioned in nine states in early June. The skyrocketing oil prices and the war in Ukraine are obviously not unrelated to the presidential decision. Six months before the mid-term elections, which the polls predict is high risk for his majority, the Democrat does not despair of containing inflation and especially the price of fuel, which acts as a thermometer of the mood of the American opinion. It is also subject to strong pressure from the Republicans to increase production. “When it arrived at the White House, the price per gallon was $2.09 [1,99 euro pour 3,8 litres]. It is now at 4.34, noted Texas Senator Ted Cruz on April 5. It’s not Putin’s fault. It is that of the Democrats and the Green New Deal. »
The NGOs do not hide their disappointment. In February 2020, in New Hampshire, candidate Biden was adamant. “No more drilling on federal lands, he had launched. Point barre. » As soon as he entered the White House, he had published a decree suspending the issuance of new operating permits and canceling the construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been fought for more than ten years by environmentalists and Indian tribes. Federal lands provide 6% of oil production and 8% of natural gas, but the fossil fuels extracted there account for almost a quarter of US greenhouse gas emissions.
Contradicted “by the facts”
In June 2021, a Louisiana judge, seized by several Republican governors, suspended the presidential decree, considering that it penalized producing states. It is this judgment that is invoked today by the administration to justify its reversal. Environmentalists are skeptical: in January, a compilation by the Center for Biological Diversity showed that Joe Biden had already granted more mining permits (3,557) than his predecessor, Donald Trump, during the first year of his mandate (2,658 ). His commitments are often “contradicted by the facts”, laments the organization. “In 2020, young climate activists had mobilized to vote. This year, the Democrats are going to be in trouble. Young people are not going to mobilize “, predicts Annie Leonard, director of Greenpeace USA.
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