Republicans’ SPR bill leaves Democrats squirming over oil leasing: ‘It’s the balancing process’

Several top Democratic lawmakers, who voted for more federal oil and gas leases in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), were quick to criticize Republican legislation Tuesday that would similarly peg future issuance from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (SPR) to additional leases.

The lawmakers: Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Frank Pallone, DN.J., and Kathy Castor, D-Fla. — explained during a press conference Tuesday afternoon that they were willing to support more leasing in some cases, even after criticizing such leasing as a giveaway to the fossil fuel industry. All three Democrats have previously taken hardline positions against the production of new fossil fuels on federal lands and waters.

“In terms of Reducing Inflation [Act]in terms of the piece of legislation where we voted for mandatory sales, it’s the balancing process,” Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said in response to a question from Fox News Digital. during the call.”There is no balance for HR 21 and [the IRA] Historically, it provided the most resources to address the real problem of the climate crisis and the climate action associated with those resources. That was the balance, that was the investment.”

“There is no investment in HR 21 and, in fact, there is a retraction. That is the difference,” he continued. “The difference is compromise, trying to meet in the middle, doing a little bit of balancing to try to get more investment in climate action and I’m glad I did.”

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Ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., makes a closing statement at a 2020 House hearing.
(Bonnie Cash Pool/Getty Images)

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 touch SPR only when there is a severe power outage and not until that the Department of the Interior (DOI) issues a plan to increase oil and gas production on federal lands and waters. The legislation is scheduled for a full vote later this week.

Yet despite their criticism of the Strategic Production Response Act, Grijalva, Pallone and Castor all voted for the IRA, which President Biden signed into law in August.

The IRA, which was authored by Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., requires the federal government to reinstate Lease Sale 257, an offshore lease sale that spans 80 million acres in the Gulf de México, and make three other offshore lease sales. that the Biden administration had canceled over climate concerns.

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The bill also links new renewable energy leases to additional fossil fuel leases. Under the bill, the DOI is prohibited from issuing wind or solar energy permits unless it has issued an onshore oil and gas permit during the prior 120-day period and at least two million acres of land have been leased for oil and gas development during the previous year.

“What we are trying to do as Democrats, with the Inflation Reduction Act as our primary vehicle, is to encourage renewable energy — wind, offshore wind, solar, and other renewable resources through tax credits and other means that we put into the Inflation Reduction Act. That’s one of the reasons we support it,” Pallone, the ranking member of the House Commerce and Energy Committee, told Fox News Digital during Tuesday’s call.

“So we’re trying to be responsible: move away from fossil fuels, and at the same time keep pumping more fossil fuels.”

Frank Pallone, DN.J., Ranking Member for Energy and Natural Resources in the House of Representatives, speaks during a hearing on April 6, 2022.

Frank Pallone, DN.J., Ranking Member for Energy and Natural Resources in the House of Representatives, speaks during a hearing on April 6, 2022.
(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Pallone also reiterated a common criticism of proposals to increase fossil fuel production on federal land, saying there are currently thousands of unused leases held by energy companies.

And Castor, former chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, added that there were “no redeeming qualities” to the Strategic Production Response Act.

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“There’s no comparison whatsoever. HR 21: No redeeming qualities here,” Castor said. “It’s a great giveaway to Big Oil and polluters. The Republicans are trying to camouflage it as tied to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The Inflation Reduction Act is landmark legislation and while it contains some resource development pieces , is the most significant investment in clean energy climate resiliency in American history.”

“In time, I’m hopeful that our fellow Republicans will break out of the way they have to genuflect to polluters and really become partners with us in solving the climate crisis, lowering costs for consumers, because energy cleaner is cheaper energy, protecting our federal government.” lands that people enjoy, that are needed for clean air, clean water, biodiversity of species,” he continued. “So there’s just no comparison.”

President Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act into law on August 16.

President Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act into law on August 16.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

After the IRA was introduced, several environmental groups criticized 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 at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in July. “It is counterproductive to link the development of renewable energy to the massive extraction of oil and gas.”

“Friends of the Earth stands in solidarity with climate justice and environmental justice organizations and communities who express deep concern or opposition to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” added Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, in that moment.

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