WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Biden administration is pumping federal dollars into a new climate effort aimed at reducing methane emissions. However, they’re also facing criticism this week from environmental advocates because of a different decision.
The U.S. Department of Energy is spending $47 million on 22 research projects to find and reduce methane leaks from oil and gas production.
“Advance the development of new and innovative measurement of methane, and monitoring of it,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said.
It’s part of their plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
“Methane is such a powerful greenhouse gas that buttoning that down, making sure we don’t have leaks there is a hugely important step to getting to that overall goal,” Granholm added.
But even as the Biden administration announces new steps like this to combat climate change, they’re getting hit with criticism for approving the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.
Congressman Jamaal Bowman is one of the people who said the administration’s decision undercuts their environmental goals.
“Why are we taking these two huge steps back right now and drilling for more oil?” Bowman said. “We have to go all in on clean energy.”
The administration argues its hands were legally tied because oil company ConocoPhillips held leases for the project since the 90s. Plus, Sec. Granholm says they took steps to shrink the drilling area and protect surrounding lands.
“It was a way of acknowledging that ConocoPhillips had a legal claim, but also that we want to prevent this from happening into the future,” Granholm said.
She says ultimately the administration is trying to accelerate toward a clean energy economy, but it’s a gradual shift.
“We’re trying to grow the energy pie, it’s a balanced transition,” Granholm said.