That report “will wrestle with some fundamental questions about the oil and gas program, including whether it’s delivering a fair return to American taxpayers, whether it fairly accounts for the impacts of climate, whether there’s adequate opportunity for public input, including from Indian tribes, and whether we have the right mechanisms in place to avoid irreparable harm to wildlife, water, sacred sites and beyond,” Haaland said.
Some environmentalists have urged a permanent halt to the sale of drilling rights on federal land and waters, arguing the territory should be enlisted in the fight against climate change, rather than used to produce the fossil fuels that drive the phenomenon. That dovetails with views that Haaland espoused long before she became Interior secretary, when she encouraged the end of fracking on federal lands.
But the oil industry has warned that an extended moratorium or a sharp crackdown on future leasing opportunities would curtail domestic energy supplies, harming U.S. national security interests while depriving federal coffers of revenue tied to the activity.
While oil leasing is paused, Interior is seeking to advance renewable energy development, including new coastal wind farms along the East Coast.
Haaland also emphasized her plans to boost conservation of federal lands, with a focus on stemming the decline of biodiversity, fighting climate and addressing inequities in the public’s access to nature.
Haaland, a former Democratic lawmaker from New Mexico who was sworn in as secretary last month, is also examining the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which was shrunk under former President Donald Trump. Haaland’s review, which will include meetings with local leaders and other stakeholders next week, could result in enlarging boundaries for the protected site.