News Roundups

Biden halts federal drilling, Yellen promises climate team, and more

Weekly news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from Jan 22, 2021.

Biden halts oil and gas leases, permits on US land and water

The Biden administration announced Thursday a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters, as officials moved quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment.

The suspension, part of a broad review of programs at the Department of Interior, went into effect immediately under an order signed Wednesday by Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega. It follows Democratic President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves as part of his plan to address climate change.

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Solar offers out-of-work oil landmen place to rebuild

When oil prices crashed last year and work in the oil patch dried up, Jonathan Click found salvation in solar.

For the previous 15 years, the Houston petroleum landman had been tracking down Texas land owners and mineral rights holders to help negotiate lease deals for oil and gas companies. But since the coronavirus pandemic wiped out crude demand and production, Click has spent the bulk of his time helping solar companies ink leases to develop solar farms across the state.

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U.S. and Canada underestimating climate risk from abandoned oil and gas wells: study

Methane leaking out of the more than 4 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States and Canada is a far greater contributor to climate change than government estimates suggest, researchers from McGill University said on Wednesday.

Canada has underestimated methane emissions from its abandoned wells by as much as 150%, while official U.S. estimates are about 20% below actual levels, the study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, found.

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Yellen vows to set up Treasury team to focus on climate, in victory for advocates

Treasury secretary nominee Janet Yellen on Tuesday pledged to create a team to focus on climate change, in a move that's likely to put the powerful agency at the forefront of the Biden administration's efforts to combat what she called an "existential threat."

In a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Yellen said she planned to start a new Treasury "hub" that would examine financial system risks arising from climate change and on related tax policy incentives. She also intends to appoint a "very senior-level" official to lead climate efforts.

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IEA cuts 2021 oil demand outlook as new Covid lockdowns weigh on fuel sales

The International Energy Agency on Tuesday cut its 2021 global oil demand forecast, citing soaring Covid-19 cases and renewed lockdown measures that will further limit mobility.

The IEA said it now expects world oil demand to recover by 5.5 million barrels per day to 96.6 million this year. That reflects a downward revision of 0.3 million barrels from last month’s assessment and follows an unprecedented collapse of 8.8 million barrels per day last year as the coronavirus pandemic battered global oil markets.

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As banks retreat from fossil fuels, a Trump regulator says 'stop'

The Trump administration on Thursday said big banks can't deny loans to entire industries including fossil fuel companies and private prisons, ignoring criticism from lenders, investors, consumer groups, Democrats and some conservatives.

The rule, issued by acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks on his last day in office, was finalized at lightning speed as the Trump administration winds down, and its critics widely expect the Biden administration or congressional Democrats to render it void.

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