‘We’re Not Expecting Anything Good’: Oil Drillers Brace For Biden’s New Rules

John Hugh DeMastri 

Oil drillers that operate on federal lands are bracing for stricter regulations, following a series of meetings that Biden administration officials have held with members of the oil industry and representatives from environmental groups, E&E News reported on Wednesday.

White House and Department of Interior (DOI) officials have met with representatives from major climate groups, such as the Sierra Club, and oil drillers like Exxon Mobil, to shape the administration’s upcoming rules that would impact bonding and other fees associated with drilling on federal land, according to E&E News. The oil and gas industry is bracing for the new rules, which environmentalists hope will go further than President Joe Biden’s signature climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, which are expected to be released next month.

“We’re not expecting anything good,” Kathleen Sgamma, the president of the Western Energy Alliance, told E&E News. While Sgamma was not personally present at any of the meetings, she said she expected the Biden administration to continue its strategy of impeding drilling efforts.

A coalition of major environmentalists — the National Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association — in a May 2 meeting with White House officials presented an analysis in favor of cutting drilling on public lands by 50% of 2005 levels by 2030, E&E reported. Doing so would be a major step toward hitting the president’s goal of cutting emissions across the entire U.S. economy by 50% by 2030, the groups argued.

Environmentalists are also pushing the administration to increase costs for bonding, the money oil companies are required to set aside to pay for potential cleanup costs before they can drill, E&E reported. Shannon Anderson, an attorney representing the Wyoming-based Powder River Basin Resource Council, told the outlet that her organization was hoping to “make industry pay its own way” by abolishing blanket bonds, which allow companies to cover all their wells in a single state via a flat fee.

The White House met with representatives from the oil industry on May 8, at the request of the American Petroleum Institute, in which representatives criticized the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for saddling drilling projects with unecessary red tape, in particular taking issue with public interest reviews that are required to renew or reinstate a permit, according to E&E. Meeting attendees included high-ranking officials from Chevron and Exxon Mobil, who are among the companies that are reportedly paying careful attention to the DOI’s next steps.

The BLM in March proposed rules that would allow green groups to lease federal lands for conservation efforts and increased land-health standards across the entirety of BLM-managed land. In the past two months, the Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency has issued historically strict emissions standards for both cars and power plants, in both cases over the objections of industry groups.

The Interior Department did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.

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