The Biden administration approved 3,557 permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands during its first year, almost 900 more than the previous administration approved during its first year in office, an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity found. Many of the permits were for oil and gas drilling in the Permian Basin region of New Mexico. Oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin, sometimes described as ‘lawless,’ are a major source of methane pollution.
A new report from EDF and Carbon Mapper based on aerial surveys found just 30 oil and gas sites in Texas and New Mexico released methane pollution equivalent to the climate pollution of half a million cars over the last three years. Methane, the main ingredient in “natural gas,” is an extremely potent heat-trapping gas. That, combined with its relatively short atmospheric half-life, makes urgent action to cut methane pollution an especially efficient way to reduce near-term global warming.
“The magnitude of emissions coming from a handful of methane sources in one of the top oil and gas producing regions illustrates the opportunity to make significant near-term progress toward the stated methane reduction goals of the US, other countries and companies around the world,” Riley Duren, CEO of Carbon Mapper and a researcher at University of Arizona, told Reuters. The Biden administration was also criticized last week by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) for continued offshore oil and gas leaking and lacking “the political courage necessary to confront the realities of climate change.” (More leasing than Trump: Politico Pro $; Permian methane: Reuters; Offshore permits: E&E $)