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Biden drilling order shows opposition

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat, did the right thing by suspending new oil and gas drilling on federally owned lands and waters, while U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson and Dave Joyce, both Republicans, said the decision damages the nation’s energy supply.

Biden recently issued executive orders including a halt to new drilling on federal property as part of his plan to address climate change. It came a week after Biden ordered a 60-day suspension of new drilling and follows through on a campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal property.

Federal leases make up about 22 percent of the nation’s oil production and 12 percent of gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

EXECUTIVE ORDERS

Ryan, D-Howland, stressed this doesn’t stop fracking or drilling and only restricts new drilling on federally owned property.

“You don’t want to necessarily be drilling in Yosemite or some of these other national parks. But we still need to pursue a cracker plant in Belmont County that the same people criticizing Biden about this haven’t lifted a finger to get that thing done,” Ryan said. “That’s about jobs and putting us at the center of the natural gas industry. Biden is supportive of that.”

Ryan called the moratorium “the bridge to the renewable energy sector.”

Biden’s executive orders double energy production from wind turbines, call for a move to an all-electric federal vehicle fleet, conserve 30 percent of the country’s lands and waters in the next decade, seek to reduce carbon emissions and make climate change a national security priority.

The orders also call for more solar and other energy sources that don’t emit greenhouse gases, a goal of eliminating carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels from the power sector by 2035 and getting rid of greenhouse gas emission completely by 2050.

“It’s a great compromise that protects our national parks and federal land while still allows the pursuit of natural gas,” Ryan said.

The moratorium doesn’t impact existing leases on federal property.

ENERGY AND JOBS

Johnson, R-Marietta, said: “I’m disappointed but not surprised that Joe Biden is coming after our domestic energy supply and the jobs that come with it.”

He added: “We’ve already seen immediate job losses from his order to revoke the Keystone XL Pipeline permit and unfortunately, (this) announcement will lead to more job losses, higher energy prices and decreases in America’s energy leadership role in the global economy.”

Johnson described it as “the start of a war against domestic energy that will target not only jobs, but also the cost of living for those who use electricity and drive a car. These policies are bad for America and will impact everyone. They will especially hurt the Mahoning Valley and rural Appalachia.”

The federal government owns 305,502 acres in Ohio, about 1.2 percent of the state, according to a Feb. 21, 2020, report from the Congressional Research Service. Eighty percent of that land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

There were 299 oil and gas leases with 230 of them in production on federal land in the state as of 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. About 100 oil and gas wells of them are in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is 33,000 acres.

“I’m not even sure how much opportunity there would be in Ohio for additional drilling,” Ryan said. “It’s pretty much down the eastern part of the state and southeastern part and not on federal land. I can’t imagine it’s a huge impact or any impact on Ohio, negligible.”

NATIONAL SUPPLY

The nation has a supply of natural gas that will last for more than 200 years, Ryan said, so any complaints about Biden’s decision are “just political arguments trying to make the president look like he’s not supportive of natural gas. There can be a political benefit to making him look extreme, but it’s just not true.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, however, reported in 2018 that assuming the production rate during that year stayed the same, the nation had enough dry natural gas to last about 92 years.

Regarding emissions, Johnson said they’ve “dramatically fallen in recent years thanks to the natural gas boom. But the left has once again moved the goal posts and the national media is happy to market and communicate this destructive, job-killing policy.”

Joyce, R-Bainbridge, said Biden’s “action undermines our nation’s drive for energy independence. Cutting the domestic supply of conventional energy won’t decrease the demand for it. Instead, it will force us to rely on other countries for it, which could threaten our national security.”

Joyce called for a bipartisan “all-of-the-above energy strategy that furthers our energy independence, protects American jobs and reduces energy costs while still ensuring we are good stewards of our environment.”

Ryan said the change won’t hurt the nation’s energy supply.

“It’s not like it’s scarce and we’re relying on foreign governments” for natural gas, he said.

“We still have the ability to pull it from the ground and turn it into liquid gas and export it to our allies in Europe and other places around the world so they don’t have to depend on (Russian President) Vladimir Putin for their energy. So there’s multiple implications here,” Ryan said.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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