Biden to take steps toward oil-drilling ban on federal land -New York Times

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden plans to announce on Wednesday preparatory steps toward a ban on new oil and gas drilling on federal land, the New York Times reported.

Citing two unnamed sources, the newspaper said on Monday Biden would issue an executive order directing federal agencies to determine how expansive the ban should be.

In the presidential election, Biden vowed to make fighting climate change a top priority, and a permanent drilling ban would make good on a campaign promise.

Biden, a Democrat, was sworn in on Jan. 20, and his administration has already temporarily suspended oil and gas permitting on federal lands and waters, one in a series of orders aimed at fighting climate change and tamping down the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

The New York Times said Biden will also on Wednesday issue executive orders that direct the government to conserve 30% of federal land and water by 2030, create a task force to make a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and elevate climate change to a national security priority.

Biden will also create new commissions and positions within the government focused on environmental justice and environmentally friendly job creation, including one to help displaced coal communities, the newspaper said.

Federal leases account for close to 25% of the nation’s crude oil output, making them a big contributor to energy supply but also to America’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Republican former President Donald Trump had sought to maximize production of oil, gas and coal on federal acreage, and routinely downplayed threats from global warming. (Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)