According to a new analysis of federal data, the Biden administration issued more licences for oil and gas drilling on public land each month than the Trump administration did in its first three years. Since Biden took office earlier this year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has authorised an average of 333 drilling permits every month, according to the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. In Trump’s first year in office, the Bureau of Land Management authorised an average of 245 drilling permits every month.
BLM authorised fewer than 300 permits per month in 2018 and 2019, but that number soared to 452 in 2020 as fossil fuel corporations stored up in anticipation of a less pro-drilling administration. The fears of the industry appeared to be unjustified. Government watchdogs are concerned about the high number of drilling permits awarded under Biden, claiming that fossil fuel extraction on public land worsens climate change and shortchanges taxpayers, as the Department of Interior (DOI) discovered in a recent report.
However, unlike Biden campaign promise to sell new drilling and mining leases, permits are provided for leases that have previously been leased, largely by past administrations. Other environmentalists argue that the administration should not only strictly enforce present environmental impact study criteria, but also alter the permitting process to include the implications of burning fossil fuels on climate change.