Republican senators from oil-producing states introduced legislation on Jan. 28 that would block the Biden administration’s order pausing new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.
The bill, introduced by Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and 24 other senators, would require congressional approval for any suspension of fossil-fuel leasing or permitting on public lands and waters.
“Federal lands and water don’t belong to President Biden; they belong to the people of the United States,” Cassidy said in a statement.
“This bill installs needed safeguards to ensure that no president can unilaterally pull the plug on American energy production and put thousands out of work the way this president is trying to do.”
An official from the Interior Department, which oversees federal lands and waters, would not comment.
Introduction of the bill, dubbed the Protecting our Wealth of Energy Resources (POWER) Act of 2021, came a day after Democratic President Joe Biden paused new oil and gas leases on federal land as part of an ambitious climate change agenda. His Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, had sought to maximize oil and gas production on federal lands and waters.
The other senators introducing the bill represent Wyoming, Tennessee, Arkansas, West Virginia, Texas, North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Utah, Kansas, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Alabama.
Two federal attorneys, who represent the Army Corps in an ongoing legal battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline, are withdrawing from the case between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Corps, a court filing says.
In a letter to fellow Democrat Joe Biden, Sen. Joe Manchin said that even without the Keystone XL pipeline, the oil would still find its way to the U.S. by rail and truck.
Labor unions are lobbying to keep projects like Line 3, Line 5 and DAPL.