US Interior secretary revokes Trump-era energy policies to aid renewables transition

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The Interior Secretary revoked a string of Trump-era policies that sought to increase the deployment of fossil fuel power plants on public land. Image: Department of Interior.

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has established a new Climate Task Force to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy generation across the country and revoked several Trump administration policies promoting fossil fuels on public land.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland has issued two secretarial orders that will “prioritise action on climate change” by focusing on the deployment of renewable energy and protecting both the US’ natural resources and its cultural heritage, DOI said in a statement.

The first order establishes a Climate Task force that is designed to coordinate the DOI’s work to ramp up renewable energy deployment on federal land and “identifying actions to foster investments in energy communities”. It will also offer guidance to stakeholders on how science should be used in determining how those resources are deployed while protecting the natural environment.

It is the latest in a string of policies announced by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) as the Biden administration ramps up efforts to decarbonise the US’ energy mix by 2035.

Haaland said the Biden administration “must take a whole-of-government approach” to tackle the climate crisis and decarbonise the power grid.

The interior secretary said the DOI has “a unique opportunity to make our communities more resilient to climate change and to help lead the transition to a clean energy economy.”

The second order revokes 12 previous policies issued under former President Donald Trump, including one which promoting coal, oil and gas power plant leasing on federal land, and another which was designed to increase oil drilling in the state of Alaska.

Haaland said the Trump-era orders were “inconsistent” with the DOI’s purpose to conserve land and wildlife and public health, and “tilted the balance of public land and ocean management without regard for climate change, equity or community engagement.”

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