DENVER (CBS4)– President Joe Biden is wasting no time putting his climate action plan into practice. His administration issued temporary bans on any new drilling permits and leases on federal land, both offshore and onshore.
The oil and gas industry immediately fired back.READ MORE: Colorado School Districts In Need Of Substitute Teachers Hope Changes To Licensing Requirements Will Help
“We are preparing to take legal action,” Kathleen Sgamma with Western Energy Alliance said.
By law, Sgamma says, the president can make it difficult to drill but he can’t make it impossible. She says there are not only legal implications but economic ramifications to the administration’s move. She points to a study that found a ban would cost Colorado $546 million in tax revenue and more than 5,000 jobs over the next four years.
“I don’t think they’re thinking through all these implications and the sacrifices they’re asking Westerners to make in terms of livelihoods and economic opportunities,” said Sgamma.
The ban is just one component of the president’s $2 trillion climate action plan. It calls for 100% renewable energy by 2035 and retraining oil and gas workers.
“The solar and storage industry is ready, willing and able to take all of the skilled folks from oil and gas, who are interested, and potentially with a little bit of retraining, coming over and installing solar panels, installing batteries, designing the systems,” says Mike Kruger with the Colorado Solar and Storage Association.READ MORE: Voting Rights Leaders From Out Of State Come To Denver For Discussion About How To Protect Elections
He says many of the skills needed in the oil and gas industry are transferrable to the renewable energy sector.
It is more difficult to make up lost tax revenue generated by oil and gas. But, Will Toor, head of Colorado’s Energy Office, says the economic impact will be far greater if we don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“All you have to do is look at the three historic wildfires we had last year, or the multi-year drought that we’re in right now. The enormous implications it has for our agriculture and recreation industry,” said Toor.
Toor says, in Colorado, cars and trucks, not oil and gas are the biggest polluters. In addition to increasing investment in renewable energy, he wants the Biden administration to restore fuel economy standards and fund a national charging network for electric vehicles. The state, he says, already has a plan in place to cut pollution in half by 2030 and 90% by 2050.
“It is imminently doable. It’s a big effort and it involves significant economic transformation but is also going to have significant economic benefits.”
Sgamma disagrees, “There’s a role for renewables, no doubt, but they can’t provide the 24-7 energy that oil and natural gas does.”MORE NEWS: State Senator Calls For Audit After Out-Of-State Company Gets Big Colorado Construction Projects
Not yet, but Kruger says Congress and Biden can change that, “It’s a matter of political will.”