WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Wildlife Federation heralded a new day at the Department of Interior after the agency convened a forum with a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss reforming the oil and gas leasing system on public lands and waters as the nation transitions to a clean energy economy.
“Our wildlife and our public lands face immense threats from wildfires, climate change, and habitat fragmentation caused by human development. We’re glad the Biden administration is taking a holistic approach at reviewing how our public lands should be managed, with a specific focus on how energy development should occur on public lands,” said David Willms, director of Western wildlife and conservation at the National Wildlife Federation. “It’s time to update the oil and gas leasing system, clean up orphaned wells, and restore degraded habitat so that our treasured wildlife and public lands can thrive for generations to come.”
“The last Administration proposed opening up sensitive new offshore areas to offshore drilling at the same time that they rolled back offshore continental shelf safety rules put in place in response to the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster,” said Jessie Ritter, director of water resources and coastal policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “We urge the Biden administration to protect our offshore ecosystems, including by reinstating the Well Control Rule and other safeguards to prevent future spills. We also need to develop a plan for communities for a well-defined, just transition to jobs that are part of a clean energy future.”
Participants at the forum discussed both onshore and offshore energy development. The Interior Department heard from Indigenous leaders, industry officials, environmental and labor advocates, as well as equity and academic experts. The agency has also encouraged the public to weigh in with suggestions about how public lands and waters can be better managed. An interim report with recommendations is expected to be released this summer.
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