Rep. Matt Rosendale is introducing legislation on Wednesday that would force President Biden to reverse his moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal lands, which was one of the president’s first policies.
The “Restore Onshore Energy Production Act” would also make it illegal for the president to halt oil and gas leases by executive order, as Biden did on his first day in office. It also comes on the heels of a slew of other GOP-backed energy bills.
Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, Lauren Boebert, and others joined Rosendale in introducing the bill. It would require the Interior Secretary to resume leases “immediately.” The bill would also require the government to approve at least four oil and gas leases per year in each of the seven states that produce energy. If federal land becomes available for oil and gas leases in other states, this requirement could be expanded.
In a statement on the bill, Rosendale said, “The Biden administration imposed an illegal moratorium on federal onshore and offshore lease sales, harming our nation’s traditional energy production and energy independence at a time when we need it most.”
“My bill would prevent the President from pausing, canceling, or delaying the onshore federal leasing process, which provides affordable fuel to millions of Americans and drives the economies of many rural states like Montana,” he added. “The Biden administration must put an end to its war on traditional energy production, pursue an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and address the nation’s energy crisis.”
House Republicans introduced a slew of energy-related bills on Wednesday, including Rosendale’s.
“The Unleashing American Energy Act” is being introduced by Rep. Jerry Carl, R-Alabama. The Promoting Energy Independence and Transparency Act is being introduced by Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-New Mexico, is introducing a permitting bill, Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas, is introducing an offshore energy bill, and Rep. Garrett Graves, R-Louisiana, is introducing an energy resiliency bill.
All five of those bills have Rosendale as a co-sponsor. As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, political momentum is building for increased domestic energy production and U.S. energy exports.
The invasion, which was roundly condemned by western leaders and NATO allies, resulted in crippling economic sanctions against Russia. Following congressional pressure, Biden also imposed a ban on Russian energy imports into the United States.
However, the war exposed Europe’s reliance on Russian energy, as well as the geopolitical significance of fossil fuels in the future.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was questioned by White House reporters about the energy leasing issue addressed in Rosendale’s bill as energy prices rose following the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine. She pointed to thousands of unused oil and gas leases on federal lands, asking why they aren’t being used if increased domestic energy production is a priority.
Psaki’s comment, according to energy industry experts at the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference earlier this month, represented a misunderstanding of how the energy market works.
Many times, after being explored, leases turn out to be unviable, according to energy experts. Leslie Beyer, CEO of the Energy Workforce and Technology Council, added that the signals sent by the White House can have just as much of an impact on energy investment as actual policy.
“We need to stop the rhetoric that’s anti-fossil fuel and we need some clarity just in the regulatory sense that this administration is behind domestic energy production,” Beyer said.