Democrats were all in for then-candidate Joe Biden. Their goal was simple: get President Donald Trump out of office. They were willing to do anything and everything to make sure that happened. And now, four Texas Democrats are regretting their decision to back Biden. The reason: his latest executive order putting a halt to federal land being leased to oil and gas companies for energy.
The four members of Congress – Reps. Vincente Gonzalez, Lizzie Fletcher, Henry Cuellar, and Marc Veasey – sent a letter to Biden, asking him to rescind the order.
"Media reports indicate that the Administration plans to announce a new proposal to ban responsible energy leasing, including oil and gas leasing, from our federal waters and lands indefinitely," the letter stated. "A federal ban for any period of time will certainly imperil hundreds of thousands of jobs, entire communities, and billions of dollars in royalty revenues to the Federal Treasury and eliminate funding for important conservation programs such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)."
The order will result in a GDP loss of $700 billion and the federal government will lose its biggest revenue generator, the letter stated. One of the other concerns they share is America returning to dependence on foreign oil.
According to the members, New Mexico is being disproportionately impacted, predominantly because of its land makeup and lack of income.
"Additionally, New Mexico, a small, poor state that receives a huge portion of their revenue for things like funding Albuquerque schools, will find this rule devastating. Such a rule could also tighten supplies, send heating and cooling bills up, and cause a spike in fuel prices during a pandemic," they explained. "Furthermore, this benefits Big Oil over small independents that did not have the resources to stockpile permits. We should instead work to make sure we create jobs by hiring more inspectors to make sure methane emissions at the well head and other rules that allow for cleaner extraction are taking place."
"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."
The members said they were happy the Biden administration rejoined the Paris Climate Accord but they want to see the president "reject policies that would ban responsible oil and gas leasing on federal lands and federal waters." That includes rescinding the current order.
The Ute Indian Tribe, the second largest Indian reservation in the United States, shared similar concerns. Not only are they worried about the job loss, but they also expressed frustration with their sovereignty being threatened.