Bipartisan Criticism Mounts Against Biden Oil and Gas Leasing Ban

Shocking to no one, the Biden administration’s recently announced moratorium on oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands is being met with significant bipartisan criticism.

As EID highlighted previously, business developers in states that depend on federal oil and natural gas production are speaking out about the executive order, as are educators in these states that know how essential oil and gas revenue is to the education system. Wyoming State Superintendent Jill Balow said that she was “taken aback” by the measure that “will defund schools”:

“I was taken aback by swift orders executed by the Biden Administration last week after months of rhetoric around bringing unity to our nation. Funding for public education in Wyoming and other states has been eviscerated by an order issued by Acting U.S. Interior Secretary de le Vega. A federal ban on oil and gas leases will defund schools. Wyoming depends on some $150 million a year in oil and gas federal mineral royalties to fund our K-12 schools.”

Lawmakers are also weighing in on the administration’s actions. According to a read out from an Associated Press reporter, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-La.) said he’s “concerned about any moratorium that would affect the Gulf.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) issued a statement emphasizing the work the state has done alongside industry to responsibly develop resources:

“We will work closely with the Biden Administration to ensure the development of a balanced national policy that acknowledges and incorporates the important lessons from an all-of-the-above energy state like ours, as we work with the industry and develop stringent new methane rules, invest robustly in new renewable infrastructure and resources and enhance the accessibility of solar energy – and that, crucially, takes into account the individual circumstances and near-term financial reality of states like ours.”

A group of House Democrats also sent a letter cautioning the administration on how significant the impacts of a moratorium would be:

“As the United States works to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans and destroyed the livelihoods of many more, now is not the time to jeopardize American jobs, or the critical tax and royalty revenues that federal leases generate for local, state, and federal government that need funds now. Instead, we should invest in our nation’s infrastructure and create the jobs that will help our nation emerge stronger after this pandemic.”

In a statement this week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he told White House officials:

“Instead of elimination, we must instead focus on utilizing all of our resources in the cleanest way possible.”

He further committed to ensuring “that the burden of any acceleration in already changing markets is not unduly placed on these communities that powered our nation to greatness.”

More than 30 Republican members of the House Energy Action Team (HEAT) also weighed in on the moratorium, with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) saying:

“Today’s executive order, combined with last week’s decision to halt energy leasing and permits, will put thousands of Americans out of work, increase energy costs on hard-working families, and make our country less secure. Make no mistake, this is the first step toward a ban on American energy production that will ship millions of high-paying jobs from energy-producing states like Louisiana, to Middle Eastern countries and adversaries like Russia, which emit carbon at dramatically higher rates than us. The American people deserve an all-of-the-above energy strategy that promotes responsible energy exploration and development – not more steps toward the radical Green New Deal.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board has also been highly critical of both the halt on federal permits issued last week and today’s leasing moratorium. On the moratorium, the board emphasized the impacts to education that will soon be realized, saying the measure “defunds the states” and is “an assault on school funding”:

“The oil and gas lease moratorium on federal lands that he announced will erase thousands of blue-collar jobs—and billions of dollars in revenue that states use to fund education.”

Today’s editorial came on the heels of the board’s previous criticism of the administration’s actions impacting U.S. oil and gas development:

“Any doubt that the Biden Administration plans to slowly regulate fossil fuels out of existence vanished this week. First came the Keystone XL pipeline kill, but perhaps more significant is the 60-day freeze on new leases on federal lands and bureaucratic permitting. The pause could soon become a long-term ban.”

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