Biden’s oil and gas policy falls short of climate targets, House Democrats say • Missouri Independent

Democrats on the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday urged President Joe Biden to take stronger action to limit oil and gas production, while Republicans said cutting domestic production would only increase global emissions from foreign suppliers.

In a hearing less than a week after the US Department of the Interior published a report which called for tax updates to federal oil and gas leasing programs but offered little to reduce the industry’s climate impacts, Democrats said the administration was leaving a critical vacuum that would hamper efforts to meet Biden’s climate commitments.

Representative Alan Lowenthal, a California Democrat who chairs the energy and mineral resources subcommittee, said the proposals, which include increasing royalty and bond rates, were welcome but insufficient.

“These changes are long overdue,” Lowenthal said. “But a glaring omission from the report was any discussion of emissions from oil and gas drilling on public lands. In my opinion, this was a missed opportunity, and it is a critical issue that we must address.

Lowenthal said the report’s recommendations were “minor reforms” that would not put the United States on track to meet its climate commitments.

He and full committee chairman Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, said the administration could use its existing authority to more significantly reduce emissions from federal lands.

Environmental activists have called on Biden to permanently ban the leasing of oil and gas on federal lands, saying it was a necessary step to meet the administration’s lofty climate goals.

“I can’t help but feel misled, disheartened and disappointed when I witness actions like the Home Office taking action to lease more public land for oil and gas,” Jade Begay, campaign director for climate justice for Native American advocacy group NDN Collective. and a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Board, testified at the hearing.

The Biden administration suspended new leases on federal lands while its review was underway, but a Louisiana federal judge ordered the government relaunch the program in June.

Republicans on the panel largely opposed Democratic calls to cut energy production on federal lands.

The abandonment of domestic production would lead to further development of OPEC members, Russia and other countries with less stringent environmental standards, they said.

Republicans warn of “one-sided” action

Declining US production of fossil fuels would likely be replaced in the global market by oil from OPEC, Russian natural gas and coal from other countries, said Nick Loris, Conservative vice president of public policy. Coalition for Climate Solutions, a group that advocates for market climate strategies.

“I continue to fail to understand why some members of this panel who advocate – or suggest they advocate – for a clean energy future, but in fact promote policies that lead to increased global emissions,” said Representative Garret Graves. (R-La.), Mentioned.

Republicans downplayed the climate impact that reduced oil and gas production on federal lands could have, saying other global factors were more important.

“No matter how much they demonize domestic oil and gas production, America is not the problem,” panel-ranked Republican Pete Stauber of Minnesota said of Democrats’ calls for development. reduced on federal lands.

“We can’t have such a big impact just by changing what we do here at home,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas, the ranked Republican on the full committee.

Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin asked Begay what commitments China made at the United Nations Climate Conference last month to curb oil and gas development, which implies that any action the United States takes to reducing emissions would not be offset by the world’s second-largest economy.

“America’s unilateral disarmament of energy independence will lead to our decline,” he later said.

But Democrats have said U.S. leadership is important for international action.

“To lead in the world, we have to put our own house in order,” Grijalva said. “This includes managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our public lands and waters. “

Eyes on New Mexico

Much of the debate has centered on New Mexico, the second largest producer of crude oil behind Texas.

State Senator Carrie Hamblen, a Democrat who also heads the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce environmental business group, told the congressional committee that New Mexico is too dependent on fossil fuel revenue.

Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, longtime New Mexico environmentalist and executive director of the conservation nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, called the state’s dependence on oil and gas revenues a “roller coaster” due to the volatile nature of the market.

Oil and gas tax revenues provide significant funding for education, conservation and hospital programs in the state, Stauber noted. a industry analysis in February estimated that industry accounted for a third of all state revenue in the previous fiscal year, including more than $ 1.3 billion for public education and colleges.

Hamblen confirmed Stauber’s comment on industry contributions to the state budget, but called for “a serious conversation about economic diversity.” The state has started adding revenue streams, including through the newly legalized sale of marijuana, she said.

She added that recreational use of public lands would be another economic benefit and called for increased production of renewable energy on public lands.

“There is no denying that the oil and gas industry has supported a lot of things,” Hamblen said. “What we need to do is continue this momentum of creating different sources of income, and we’re doing it in New Mexico, we’re starting that.”

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