- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 2021

An environmental group isn’t feeling much holiday cheer toward President Biden.

Friends of the Earth has plastered downtown Washington and Capitol Hill neighborhoods with posters depicting Mr. Biden as Ebenezer Scrooge holding a wad of cash.

Environmental groups are incensed that Mr. Biden went back on his campaign promise not to allow oil and gas companies to drill on more public lands. He even auctioned off the rights to explore for fuel on more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico in November.

The posters are in the style of movie ads and promote “Biden’s Oily Christmas,” which is billed as an “Oil Industry Production.”

Biden promised during the presidential campaign: “No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period.”

The environmentalists say he hasn’t kept his word.

They are also angry that the Interior Department is planning to auction off the rights to drill on more than another 300,000 acres of public land in nine states.

“Candidate Biden promised to ban new oil and gas extraction on federal lands and waters, but his administration has been doing the exact opposite,” said Daniel E. Estrin, general counsel and advocacy director for Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental group that is protesting the leasing of land for drilling in those states.

The Biden administration’s Bureau of Land Management had approved 333 drilling permits a month — more than under the Trump administration, Public Citizen said in a report titled, “Biden’s Oil Letdown.”

Activists from Friends of the Earth also sang a taunting rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas to Mr. Biden at the lighting of the White House Christmas tree on Dec 2.

“On the twelfth day of Christmas Joe Biden gave to me, twelve lobbyists lobbying, eleven CEOs a-lying, ten megastorms a-swirling, nine forests a-burning, eighty million Gulf acres, seven oil-slicked swans a-swimming, six Big Oil bailouts, five golden parachutes, four leaking pipelines, three million orphaned oil wells, too (many) broken pledges, and a climate catastrophe,” they sang.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some of Mr. Biden’s moves should have comforted environmentalists. He issued a Jan. 27 executive order that suspended new drilling leases on public lands.

However, the order ran into court challenges from several Republican-led states, and the Interior Department said it had no choice but to auction off the right to drill in the Gulf.

Interior spokesman Tyler Cherry said the Biden administration is also tightening rules for drilling on public lands to include analyzing greenhouse gas emissions.

Friends of the Earth spokeswoman Brittany Miller said the president’s steps aren’t good enough and Mr. Biden deserves coal in his stocking.

Even without the moratorium, the administration could have not allowed more drilling in the Gulf because it would worsen global warming, she said.

“The blame is on the Biden administration because it is not legally obligated to hold the Gulf of Mexico lease sale,” Ms. Miller said.

• Kery Murakami can be reached at kmurakami@washingtontimes.com.

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