Anticipating a change in Presidential Administration, this 2020 report from the Institute for Policy Integrity describes immediate and longer-term actions that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management should take to reform public lands management consistent with climate change, conservation, and fiscal reform priorities. It lays out action targets for the first 100 days, as well as the first year.
The report recommends that, in the first 100 days of the next administration:
(1) The President should issue a new Climate Action Plan that specifies a declining cap on GHG emissions from public lands and a zero-emissions target date (such as 2030), for both onshore and offshore land management;
(2) Interior should commit to an annual GHG inventory for public lands;
(3) Interior should issue a pause on all new coal, oil, and natural gas leasing on federal lands and launch programmatic environmental reviews of these programs as an expeditious way to halt all new leasing while complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA);
(4) Interior should revoke all Trump administration secretarial orders and replace them with orders that require accounting for climate change effects, making decisions guided by the best available science, and managing public lands to account for environmental, recreational, and scenic values—not merely energy
(5) Interior should enforce the BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue’s Valuation Rule, both of which were reinstated following successful legal challenges to repeals, and launch new rulemakings to reinstate and strengthen BLM’s Hydraulic Fracturing Rule and the offshore Well
Control Rule, each of which was weakened during the Trump administration
The report further recommends that, in the first year, the Dept. of the Interior should:
(1) Revive landscape-level planning for Interior agencies, with particular attention to selecting priority areas for conservation, restoration, and renewable energy development, and consider a new landscape-level planning rule following the demise of BLM’s “Planning 2.0 Rule” pursuant to the Congressional Review Act;
(2) For onshore public lands, amend resource management plans (RMPs) in accordance with a zero GHG emissions by 2030 strategy, consider an immediate net-zero emissions strategy for RMPs that uses offsets in the form of greater carbon sequestration, renewable energy production, or other strategies, and revive Master Leasing Plans if any leasing continues;
(3) If any new fossil fuel leasing occurs, adjust the fiscal terms of new and modified leases—royalty rates, minimum bids, and rental rates—in order to account for climate change costs and earn a fair return to taxpayers, such as through implementing a carbon adder;
(4) For offshore lands and waters, embark upon a new five-year planning process that seeks to achieve zero GHG emissions by 2030, or alternatively, net-zero emissions;
(5) For offshore public lands and waters, consider withdrawing areas of the Outer Continental Shelf from oil and gas leasing using Presidential authority;
(6) Remove inefficient barriers to renewable energy production on federal lands, both onshore and offshore, such as by using RMPs and Designated Leasing Areas to identify more areas with strong renewable energy potential and low environmental conflict, improving timely permitting, retraining displaced fossil fuel workers to work in renewable energy, identifying more offshore Wind Energy Areas, and establishing a taskforce to streamline offshore wind permitting; and
(7) Develop a policy for the appropriate treatment of GHG emissions and the use of the Interagency Working Group’s Social Cost of Carbon and Social Cost of Methane in environmental impact statements, consistent with legal precedent and best practices for agency decisionmaking.