Last Friday, the Biden administration announced it would resume plans for oil and gas development on federally owned lands. This means selling leases for drilling on 144,000 acres of public land, reversing a previous ban. And even though companies will be required to pay higher royalties to drill, they are still being given access to lands previously protected from such activity. Oil and gas companies also raked in record profits last year, so additional fees are just part of the Big Oil budget, and will hardly hurt their bottom line.
The White House recently announced that the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded contracts for all 30 million barrels it put up for sale. This is the largest ever release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and will put a record amount of oil on the market until the end of the year. In the statement released by the White House about this event, it furthermore brags about how the U.S. is expected to increase its oil and gas production by “1 million barrels per day this year and over 500,000 barrels per day next year.”
These actions are in direct contradiction to Biden’s promises to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and instead invest in clean energy technologies. In fact, Biden’s 2020 campaign stressed his commitment to the environment. Now it’s evident that this was a pledge he was never really committed to keep.
Why is the government promoting further fossil fuel extraction, and releasing millions of barrels it was storing in reserves, instead of working to reduce fossil fuel use as promised? The Biden Administration is touting the move as an attempt to curb the rise in oil prices, which is blamed on the Russian invasion of Ukraine (even though gas prices were already on the rise before the invasion). Regardless of the cause of an increase in gas prices – and the war cannot be denied as a factor – there is no excuse for funding the continued destruction of our planet.
The Biden administration has made it clear that they are only interested in talking about the environment when it makes for good publicity, and that talking is all they can do about it anway. The climate emergency is already causing mass migration and hunger, and will cause mass extinction if it is not stopped. We cannot afford to waste time with the false promises of politicians, which are always overridden by the profit considerations of the corporations these politicians serve. Capitalist governments can never solve the climate emergency, because capitalism is exactly the problem.