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Climate change goals and oil production are clashing in the U.S.

Climate change goals and oil production are clashing in the U.S.

If we’re to avoid extreme warming, all drilling for oil needs to stop now, experts say, but U.S. fossil fuel production is continuing.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, temporarily banned all new oil and gas leases on federal land, and canceled permits for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. In April, the president held a virtual climate conference in which he went even further than the Paris climate commitments, pledging that the world’s second largest economy would cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, relative to 2005, and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting,” Biden told world leaders on Earth Day. “The countries that take decisive actions now will be the ones that reap the clean-energy benefits of the boom that’s coming.”

Then a funny thing happened on the way to decarbonization. Shortly after Biden’s bold climate announcement, his administration approved ConocoPhillips’ massive new Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), which the oil giant estimates at its peak will pump up to 160,000 barrels of oil a day out of some 250 wells, producing nearly 600 million barrels of oil over the next 30 years. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland had strongly opposed the project while a member of Congress just last year.

Though it killed the Keystone XL pipeline, in April Biden’s administration argued in court against shutting down the controversial Dakota Access pipeline that carries a half-million barrels of oil a day between South Dakota and Illinois. That pipeline is also opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which sees it as a threat to its water supply and sacred sites.

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