How President Biden’s Executive Orders Impact The Oil Industry

In late 2019, as various candidates jockeyed to win the Democratic nomination for president, Elizabeth Warren made the statement that she would “ban fracking everywhere.” It was just the kind of hollow campaign promise that I loathe, and I explained why that was an unrealistic promise.

Then Joe Biden came along and pandered to the same crowd Warren was trying to impress. He promised “no new fracking”, but once again I explained why that promise wouldn’t be fulfilled.

 

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Now that President Biden has issued a pair of executive orders that are viewed as hostile toward the oil and gas industry, many people have asked me whether Biden has in fact banned fracking.

On his second day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. The biggest takeaway from the Executive Order was the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit. The project had been rejected by President Obama in late 2015, fast-tracked by President Trump in 2017, and now once more rejected by President Biden in 2021.

But there is no mention of fracking in this executive order.

Last week the administration also issued Secretarial Order No. 3395, which implemented a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for federal land and water.

This week President Biden followed that action up with Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The biggest takeaway from this order was an indefinite “pause on new oil and natural gas leases on public lands” until a comprehensive review on the climate change impacts can be completed.

The sound bite for many from this executive order was that President Biden had banned fracking as a consequence of this action. But as with the previous order, fracking isn’t mentioned in this executive order. Further, if an operator has an existing lease and permit but haven’t drilled yet, they can still drill the well and frack it.

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