WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday revoked a series of Trump administration orders that promoted fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and issued a separate directive that prioritizes climate change in agency decisions.
The moves are part of a government-wide effort by the Biden administration to address climate change ahead of a virtual global summit on climate change that President Biden is hosting this week.
“From day one, President Biden was clear that we must take a whole-of-government approach to tackle the climate crisis, strengthen the economy and address environmental justice,” Haaland said. The new orders will “make our communities more resilient to climate change and ... help lead the transition to a clean energy economy,’’ she added.
The orders revoke Trump-era directives that boosted coal, oil and gas leasing on federal lands and promoted what Trump called “energy dominance” in the United States. Haaland also rescinded a Trump administration order intended to increase oil drilling in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve.
Haaland called the orders by her predecessors, Ryan Zinke and David Bernhardt, “inconsistent with the department’s commitment to protect public health; conserve land, water and wildlife; and elevate science.’’
Collectively, the previous orders “tilted the balance of public land and ocean management without regard for climate change, equity or community engagement,’’ Haaland said.
The new orders do not affect Interior’s ongoing review of proposals for oil, gas, coal and renewable energy development on public lands and waters, she said.
Environmental groups heralded the orders and pledged to work with Haaland to ensure that Interior Department decisions are guided by science and respect for Indigenous communities, wildlife, outdoor recreation and other uses.
More than 25% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions originate on public lands, and Interior has “unrivaled opportunities to restore natural carbon sinks, responsibly deploy clean energy and reduce existing emissions,’’ said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.
“Rescinding the previous administration’s orders that encouraged unfettered drilling in ecologically and culturally sensitive areas and establishing a climate task force will help ensure wise management of our natural resources for people and wildlife alike,’’ O’Mara said.