More than 100 members of Congress sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday asking him to reverse his executive order on climate change, calling it “ill-conceived” and “devastat[ing]” to large parts of the economy.
Not only did the order include the United States’ re-entry into the Paris Agreement, but it also addressed domestic efforts to reduce the effects of climate change. Included in the group of 105 members who signed the letter were Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) and House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AR).
Their response argues that Biden’s environmental strategy will damage the American economy further, noting how millions of Americans are already unemployed because of the harmful effects of COVID-19 on the workforce.
The letter also details how Biden’s plan will “handicap” environmental restoration programs by cutting off one of their main sources of funding for conservation: “revenues from conventional energy production.”
Biden’s plan places “an indefinite moratorium on new oil and natural gas leases on federal lands and water,” which Republicans explain includes energy and mineral development, both of which are “the largest source of revenues to the federal government after taxes.” The letter adds that a large portion of the money that the federal government receives on these areas comes from “bonus bids from lease sales.” They claim that halting the ability to create new leases will increase the country’s debt and “create an opportunity cost in the billions.”
The executive order also “commits to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030.”
The Republicans address this, as well, calling the percentage an “arbitrary 30% threshold” and describing this act as a “pledge to lock up” a portion of the United States’ land and water. They describe how “conserving our beautiful public lands and waters is a goal we all share,” but include that the “rich resources” of the country can be used in “safe, ecologically conscious ways.”
They argue that limiting U.S. energy production as Biden proposes “will all but ensure that U.S. demand instead be met by oil and gas from countries with lesser environmental standards,” arguing that the pollution caused by this process will increase. The letter concludes by saying that “energy production and environmental protections are not mutually exclusive” and calls on Biden to work with Republicans on new policy.
Shortly after the executive order was signed in January, Roll Call reported that Republicans will likely use Biden’s actions on climate change to win seats in the 2022 midterm elections.
The National Republican Congressional Committee spread a memo first obtained by CQ Roll Call that referred to polling from the 2020 election in which voters in “battleground” districts suggested they would be “less likely to support Democrats after hearing that they ‘supported the Green New Deal,’ ‘had repeatedly voted against the oil and gas industry’ or ‘voted to allow future presidents to ban fracking.’”
A full list of signatories on the Republicans’ letter to Biden can be found here.