Grijalva Highlights False GOP Talking Points, Budget Option to Drill in Arctic Refuge Ahead of “Drill, Baby, Drill” Alaska Hearing

Washington, D.C. – As House Republicans prepare to publish budget reconciliation language today that could lead to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling – continuing a decades-long ideological effort to drill in one of the nation’s most pristine protected habitats – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) highlighted the almost total lack of GOP imagination on energy and economic policy. The budget language comes ahead of today’s hearing at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time in the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee on onshore Alaska drilling, where Republicans will falsely claim we need to turn fragile and unspoiled public lands over to the oil industry to help our economy and energy supply.

“Republicans have misrepresented our energy economy for years, since well before President Trump took office, and today we see just how out of ideas they really are,” Grijalva said. “The closest they come to ‘balanced use’ is balancing their public land giveaways between their oil, gas and coal allies. Republican thinking on energy and environmental protection froze in place during the Reagan administration, and today’s hearing and this budget are just more proof.”

In advance of today’s hearing, Grijalva highlighted the many clear Republican misstatements on oil and gas policy since Trump took office. Grijalva especially underscored the frequent administration claim to support an “all-of-the-above” energy policy – a poll-tested phrase that has not substantively changed the Republican drill-first agenda.

Recent Republican Claims on Energy vs. The Facts

Claim: The “2018 budget supports an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy development strategy.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (hearing on 6/20/17)

Claim: “The America First Energy Plan is an ‘all-of-the-above’ plan that includes oil and gas, coal, and renewable resources.”

Katharine MacGregor, Acting Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management (hearing on 6/29/17)

Fact: Interior’s budget request reduced major renewable energy programs by $15.3 million and increased funding for fossil fuel programs by $33.9 million.

Claim: “I’m all of the above. I don’t favor oil and gas over coal, over wind, over nuclear. I’m just all of the above.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (hearing on 6/8/17)

Fact: Sec. Zinke signed an order on July 6 expediting the permitting process for oil and gas operations on public lands – an order that excluded renewable energy.

Claim: The budget request includes “sensible and rational reductions [in Interior programs],” and “with regard to wind, the budget matches the anticipated demand.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (hearing on 6/22/17)

Fact: According to the Interior budget justification, proposed cuts will hurt renewable energy programs and themselves lead to reduced offshore wind activity.

Claim: “By streamlining approvals of responsible energy development on federal land, and actually holding lease sales, we will generate revenue for local communities and the Treasury to fund the things we all value like National Parks, infrastructure and education.” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (press release, 7/6/17)

Fact: The Obama Administration offered millions of acres of public land to oil and gas companies for leasing every year, and while industry only bid on a fraction of those, there were 10.8 million acres of new oil and gas leases issued between 2009 and 2016. The Billings Gazette published a July 18 article pointing to widespread confusion in Zinke’s home state of Montana stemming from his secretarial order mandating faster Bureau of Land Management drilling approvals – confusion based largely on the fact that, as the paper reported, the 84 federal land drilling permits in Montana currently awaiting finalization “weren’t languishing because of BLM foot dragging” but because of “public objections over project conditions or myriad other reasons,” including in some cases oil and gas companies’ failure to supply “all the necessary information to move ahead.”

Claim: “We need to work better…to make sure that we are reducing timeframes when it comes to the permitting backlog.” Katharine MacGregor, Acting Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management (hearing on 6/29/17)

Fact: The “permitting backlog” that DOI discusses is at its lowest level in more than a decade, and companies are currently hoarding nearly 8,000 approved drilling permits that they haven’t used.

Claim: Interior is “not engaged in picking winners or losers in any way” on energy policy.

Katharine MacGregor, Acting Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management (hearing on 6/29/17)

Fact: Sec. Zinke is working to implement an Executive Order by “reviewing” agency actions “that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear.”

Claim: “Conservation is at the forefront of everything we do.”

Vincent DeVito, Interior Department Energy Counselor, (interview on 6/29/17)

Fact: In the same interview, Mr. DeVito acknowledged that “the Department of the Interior is in the energy business.” The agency frequently speaks of “energy dominance,” indicating fossil energy has been prioritized over conservation.

Claim: In March, Sec. Zinke established a Royalty Policy Committee “to ensure the public receives the full values of natural resources produced from federal lands.”       

Fact: Interior has taken steps to reduce royalties paid by oil, gas, and coal companies, cancelling the review of the federal coal-leasing program, halting the rule that would have closed royalty loopholes, and lowering offshore oil and gas royalty rates. 

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