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Say Goodbye to the Obama Era “All of the Above” Energy Approach

The BLM has removed the phrase “all of the above energy approach.” The image on the left shows BLM’s “Energy and Minerals” webpage on January 20, 2021, and the image on the right shows the same webpage on January 21, 2021. Text highlighted in red was deleted; text highlighted in green was added. 

Welcome! This post is part of the EDGI Website Monitoring Team’s “Highlights from the Change Log” blog series. The purpose of this series is to call attention to interesting changes we have observed in the language used on, or access to, federal websites. We want to share these changes to encourage public engagement with and discussion of their significance, as well as understanding of the ephemeral nature of website information. Today’s change occurred between January 20 and 21, 2021, on the Bureau of Land Management’s “How We Manage” and “Energy and Minerals” webpages.

What happened:

On the first day of the Biden administration, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) removed the phrase “all of the above energy approach” from at least two of its key webpages. This phrase was championed by the Obama administration and retained by the Trump administration.

On its “Energy and Minerals” webpage, the BLM replaced the page introduction header reading “An All of the Above Energy Approach” with “Sustainable Development.” In its introductory sentence, it also replaced a reference to “all of the above energy” with “sustainable.” Later in the paragraph, the BLM removed these sentences: “This approach strengthens American energy security, supports job creation, and strengthens America’s energy infrastructure. We are also taking steps to make energy development on public lands easier by reviewing and streamlining our business processes to serve industry and the American public.” It also replaced a statement about the nation’s “growing energy needs” with simply “energy needs.”

On its “How We Manage” webpage, the BLM removed a paragraph about supporting an “all-of-the-above energy approach,” which had also included clauses about managing the country’s borders and serving people for extractive recreational activities like hunting. It also removed the list of the Department of the Interior (DOI; its parent agency) priorities, as enumerated under the Trump administration (see our recent blog about DOI’s overhaul of its priorities under the Biden administration). Additionally, the BLM removed several acronyms, creating a much more approachable and readable feel to the webpage. 

Compare before and after snapshots of BLM’s “Energy and Minerals” webpage.

Compare before and after snapshots of BLM’s “How We Manage” webpage.

Why we think it’s interesting:

Moving past the “All of the Above” energy approach lays the groundwork to shift away from fossil fuel development promotion. “Oil and Gas” and “Coal” are still the first two subject headers on the “Energy and Minerals” webpage, but at least now the BLM is forefronting sustainability rather than the promotion of all energy sources despite their environmental impact. 

This particular change is also an indication that the Biden administration will not simply return to Obama-era policies and practices. The “All of the Above Energy Approach” embraced by the Obama administration placed emphasis on the continued production and further development of fossil fuels, which environmental advocates warned was unnecessary and irresponsible. The BLM moving away from this framing on the very first day of the Biden administration signals that we are charting a new path forward.