White House silent as oil production reaches record, environmentalists call for green energy

The White House was silent this week when asked about the increasing levels of crude oil production in the U.S. even as President Biden continues to push an aggressive green energy agenda.

Field production of crude oil hit 13.3 million barrels per day in late December, the highest level ever recorded, according to the latest data published by the Energy Information Administration. However, the White House failed to respond to multiple Fox News Digital inquiries and address the figures in light of its climate agenda.

“From day one, my administration has taken unprecedented climate action. We’re working with everyone from mayors to county officials to entrepreneurs to academics; business leaders, labor leaders, Tribal leaders,” Biden remarked in a November speech about climate change. “We’re focused in all parts of America: cities, suburbs, small towns, and rural communities and Tribal Nations.”

“We’re just getting — and we’re just getting started. And we really are. We’re just getting started,” he added. “All told, my Investing in America Agenda and those bold climate laws are the most au—ambitious in American history.”

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Prior to December, the previous oil production of 13.1 million barrels a day was set in March 2020 during the Trump administration and shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic forced drilling to decline substantially. The Trump administration pushed various policies to encourage fossil fuel development.

However, shortly after taking office, Biden immediately took steps to curb oil and gas production on federal lands, issuing a moratorium on all new fossil fuel leasing, a move he promised as part of his climate-focused campaign platform. But in June 2021, after the administration was sued by a group of state attorneys general, a federal court struck the moratorium down. It was permanently struck down in August 2022.

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Following the court rulings, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced that her agency would again proceed with fossil fuel leasing. The DOI then modified the federal oil and gas leasing program in April 2022 and ultimately held the administration’s first onshore lease sales months later. The agency was subsequently sued by environmental groups for holding the sales in a case that remains ongoing.

But the administration has pursued a pared-back oil and gas leasing program despite a legal requirement to hold quarterly lease sales. DOI was sued by energy industry groups led by the Western Energy Alliance and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, despite holding the sales in 2022, not regularly holding sales in accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act.

In addition, the administration finalized the most-restrictive offshore oil drilling plan in U.S. history last month. Under the final five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program, the federal government will hold just three Gulf of Mexico lease sales through 2029, marking a stark departure from plans finalized under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Biden has also signed legislation earmarking billions of dollars for green energy development and issued various goals for replacing fossil fuels with alternatives across sectors as part of his effort to curb global warming.

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“President Biden is working overtime to speed the shift to clean energy,” Josh Axelrod, a senior advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s nature program, told Fox News Digital. “His administration has sparked a heartland manufacturing renaissance with clean energy at its core. It’s creating jobs, making the country more energy secure and strengthening the domestic supply chain for the building blocks of a modern economy.”

“Big Oil, meanwhile, exploits a deck stacked in its favor to bank short-term profits by tying us all to the fuels of the past,” he continued. “That business model has to change. This administration’s focus on clean energy policy can bend the curve in the right direction. There’s obviously a lot of work still to do to make that happen.”

He added that the United Nations recently agreed to phase down fossil fuel production in the coming decades but noted that the U.S., Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and the 16 other top energy-producing nations plan to extract twice as much oil, gas and coal by 2030 “as a climate-safe world can tolerate.” 

Axelrod urged Big Oil to recognize “the sun is setting on fossil fuels and find its place in a clean energy, fossil-free future.”

“Oil drilling is one of the reasons we lose two football fields worth of wild lands every minute,” Lisa Frank, the executive director of Environment America’s Washington legislative office, told Fox News Digital. “Large swaths of the United States, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Grand Canyon, are too special to drill or mine.”

“Environment America applauds President Biden’s actions to protect these unique places for wildlife and for generations to come,” Frank said. “At the same time, we’re still drilling for more oil on U.S. lands and in our oceans. When we drill, we spill, so the sooner we can switch to clean, renewable energy, the better.”

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