New bills would coddle oil and gas, gut recent public lands wins


New proposals knock conservation, encourage fossil fuel development

Like clockwork, fringe lawmakers are once again treating public lands like a buffet for fossil fuel and other special interests. House members recently unveiled a series of bills, and one resolution, intending to roll back public lands progress made by the Biden administration. These proposals threaten our shared public lands and natural resources by weakening environmental safeguards and propping up the oil and gas industry. 

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Cherokee Generating Station, Colorado.

Cherokee Generating Station, CO

Mason Cummings, TWS

H.R. 6009 would let oil and gas companies off the hook

The Restoring American Energy Dominance Act (H.R. 6009), introduced by Rep. Lauren Boebert, is an especially direct attack on the current administration’s progress. It would withdraw the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) oil and gas leasing rule and block a similar rule from being introduced in the future. 

In effect, Boebert’s bill would continue the century-old model of oil and gas companies paying dirt-cheap royalty rates to use our natural resources. It would also help let them off the hook when it comes time to clean up their messes after a drilling project is done. 

Another proposal, the Protecting American Energy Production Act, or H.R. 1121, aims to prohibit the president from issuing a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Fracking is done by drilling deep into the earth, then using small explosions and a mix of water, sand and chemicals to break up shale rock formations that contain natural gas and oil. 

Not only does fracking feed the fossil fuel cycle that drives climate change, but the process itself releases massive amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the climate-warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. And if fracking goes wrong, it can poison water and threaten wildlife, too. 

Resolution rejects a host of conservation and climate advances

The recent bills are part of a sweeping campaign to denounce the hard-fought climate and conservation progress of recent years. Other members of Congress have put forward a non-binding resolution that serves as their summary and rejection of some of the last three years’ biggest wins.  

Among other things, the resolution slams the proposed BLM rule to put conservation on equal footing with other uses of public lands; the cancellation of illegal Arctic Refuge leases; the proposed rule to conserve 13 million acres in the Western Arctic; the 20-year mining moratorium next to the Boundary Waters-Canoe Area Wilderness; and mineral withdrawals in Chaco Canyon, Black Hills National Forest and the Thompson Divide. 

All these proposals are crafted to deliver public lands into the hands of fossil fuel industrial interests while hindering our government's ability to combat the climate crisis.

They encourage drilling and fracking, endangering our environment and future at a time when the threats are becoming clearer than ever. 

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