Several prominent Democratic lawmakers, who voted for more federal oil and gas leases in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), were quick to criticize Republican legislation on Tuesday that would similarly tie future releases of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to additional leases.
The lawmakers — Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, Frank Pallone, DN.J., and Kathy Castor, D-Fla. — explained on a Tuesday afternoon press call that they were willing to support more leasing in some cases, even after criticizing such leasing as a handout for the fossil fuel industry. All three Democrats have previously taken tough stances against new fossil fuel production on federal lands and waters.
“In terms of reducing inflation [Act]on the bill where we voted for mandatory sales, that’s the balancing act,” said Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, in response to a question from Fox News Digital on the call. there is no balance with HR 21 and [the IRA] historically provided the most resources to address the real problem of the climate crisis and the climate action associated with those resources. It was the balance, it was the investment.”
“There is no investment in HR 21 and, in fact, there is a retraction. So that’s the difference,” he continued. “The difference is compromise, trying to meet in the middle, making some balance to try to get more investment in climate action and I’m glad we did that.”
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Democrats organized the call to attack HR 21, the Strategic Production Response Act, a Republican-led bill that would require the Department of Energy to operate the SPR only in the event of a severe power outage. energy supply and not before the Department of the Interior (DOI) releases a plan to increase oil and gas production on federal lands and waters. The legislation is scheduled for a floor vote later this week.
However, despite their criticisms of the Strategic Production Response Act, Grijalva, Pallone and Castor all voted in favor of the IRA that President Biden signed into law in August.
The IRA, which was drafted by Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., demands that the federal government reinstate Lease Sale 257, an offshore lease sale spanning 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico , and to hold three more offshore lease sales that the Biden administration had canceled due to climate concerns.
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The bill also ties new renewable energy leases to additional fossil fuel leases. Under the bill, the DOI is prohibited from issuing wind or solar permits unless it has issued an onshore oil and gas permit within the preceding 120-day period and at least two million acres of land have been leased for oil and gas development in the past year.
“What we’re trying to do as Democrats, with the Cut Inflation Act as our primary vehicle, is encourage renewable energy – wind, offshore wind, solar and other renewable resources through tax credits and other means that we put in the Cut Inflation Act. . That’s one of the reasons we support it,” said Pallone, the prominent member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to Fox News Digital during the call on Tuesday.
“So we’re trying to be responsible – get away from fossil fuels and at the same time you’re always pumping more fossil fuels.”
Pallone also reiterated a common criticism of proposals to increase fossil fuel production on federal lands, saying there are currently thousands of unused leases held by energy companies.
And Castor, the former chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, added that there were no “redemptive qualities” in the Strategic Production Response Act.
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“There is no comparison. HR 21 – there are no redeeming qualities here,” Castor said. “It’s a big giveaway to big oil and polluters. The Republicans are trying to camouflage it as being tied to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The Inflation Reduction Act is a landmark law, and although it contains elements of resource development, it is the single largest investment in clean energy and climate resilience in American history.”
“Over time, I hope our fellow Republicans will break the way they have to kneel before polluters and truly partner with us in solving the climate crisis, cutting costs for consumers, because more energy clean is cheaper energy – protecting our federal government from land that people value, that is needed for clean air, clean water, species biodiversity,” she continued. there is simply no comparison.”
After the IRA was introduced, several environmental groups lambasted the legislation saying it would worsen climate change and increase profits for the oil industry.
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“This is a climate suicide pact,” Brett Hartl, director of government affairs for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in July. “It’s counterproductive to tie renewable energy development to massive new oil and gas extraction.”
“Friends of the Earth stands in solidarity with climate and environmental justice organizations and communities that express deep concern or opposition to the Cut Inflation Act 2022,” added Erich Pica, President, at the time. Friends of the Earth.