President Biden issued a series of executive orders on the first day of his administration, including two that constitute a direct attack on oil and gas. Louisiana is one of the states that will bear the brunt of it.
The new administration enacted a 60-day ban on new oil and gas drilling leases and permits on federal lands and waters, prominently including the Gulf of Mexico where roughly 17 percent of America’s crude oil is produced. The president also halted a permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that is ultimately designed to run from Texas to Canada. These actions will destroy tens of thousands of jobs in Louisiana and hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide. It also weakens and undermines the relationship with our ally, Canada.
Regarding the ban on new leases and permits, we are acutely and painfully aware from the BP oil spill that the oil and gas industry does not operate in a vacuum and the drilling moratorium put on new leases and permits drastically interrupts the industry as a whole and specifically the creation of oil and gas jobs. It will also require America, which had become a net exporter of crude oil under the Trump Administration, to perilously begin to rely once again on foreign oil.
Regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, we must note that the Obama State Department, on 5 separate occasions, determined that the pipeline would have no material effect on greenhouse gas emissions. The plan for the pipeline is to transport approximately 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast. None of this mattered. The Obama Administration still rejected the permit and joined the Paris Climate accords.
For two decades, America has led the world in the reduction of energy-based emissions because, among other reasons, highly efficient and technologically advanced shale hydraulic fracturing has replaced coal in power production. However, none of this will matter if the concern is keeping fossil fuels in the ground because neither Russia nor China, for example, will ever truly abide by a restriction on emissions even as Russia now undertakes an enormous exploration project in the Arctic and China moves full speed ahead with its fossil fuel development. Under the accord, China is not even required to cut its emissions for ten years which there is absolutely no reason to believe it will do then.
Perhaps most remarkable is that pipeline owner, TC Energy, (formerly TransCanada) and the unions themselves worked diligently to persuade new Biden Administration officials not to kill the pipeline by highlighting the fact that the pipeline’s benefits include over 10,000 American union construction jobs, the fact that the steel pipe used was made in the U.S., the deal included the pixie dust of a $10 million Green Job Training Fund as well as 100% renewable power being used to operate the pipeline. Didn’t matter. So, TC Energy announced layoffs last week.
I am hopeful that TC Energy sues the Biden Administration over the rejection of the permit because I believe that the U.S. Constitution gives Congress, not the executive branch/president, the power over foreign trade and commerce and this reversal violates the due process rights of TC Energy.