The government of President Joe Biden announced this Friday that it will again rent public land to private companies for the extraction of oil and natural gas, although they will have to pay higher prices.
The announcement comes at a time when energy prices are soaring due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent imposition of sanctions by Washington and other Western powers.
The Department of the Interior, which manages these public federal lands, said in a statement that next week it will put up for rent an area of 145,000 acres (about 58,700 hectares) spread over 9 of the 50 US states.
Companies that want to rent them will have to pay the federal government a tax equivalent to 18.75% of their profits, which represents a considerable increase compared to the 12.5% that was established until now.
These new rentals will be the first offered by Biden since he took office in January 2021.
That same month, the president signed a battery of executive orders to combat the climate crisis, including the suspension of new leases to extract oil and gas on federal land.
Biden’s decision this Friday breaks with one of his 2020 election promises, when he pledged to end the leasing of public land for energy extraction and to reduce greenhouse gases.
The main environmental groups in the US, such as the Sierra Club, oppose the use of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing because it is an extraction technique that requires a large amount of chemicals, so there is a risk of contamination soil and water where it is applied.