GOP Senator Grills Biden Interior Nominee On Oil And Natural Gas Industry: ‘Why Not Just Let These Workers Keep Their Jobs?’

Rep. Deb Haaland (Screenshot/C-SPAN2)

Brandon Gillespie Media Reporter
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Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso grilled Democratic New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland on Tuesday over the American jobs expected to be lost in the oil and natural gas industries under President Joe Biden’s administration.

Haaland, Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of the Interior (DOI), was being questioned by Barrasso in her Senate confirmation hearing when he asked her about Biden’s executive order “banning new oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands and waters” and its expected job losses. (RELATED: Rep. Dan Crenshaw: If Democrats Claim They Are The Party Of The Working Class ‘They Actually Have To Support Working’)

“In his first few weeks in office, President Biden issued several orders … banning new oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands and waters. It’s estimated this long-term leasing ban is going to cost your home state of New Mexico 62,000 jobs. My home state of Wyoming 33,000 jobs,” Barrasso began.

He went on to list the jobs that are expected to be lost as a result of Biden’s executive order and noted that Haaland previously pledged to work her heart out for everyone, including those employed in the fossil fuels industry. “My question is for you, why not just let these workers keep their jobs?” Barrasso asked.

“Senator, it’s my understanding that President Biden has put just a pause on new leases. He didn’t ban new leases. He didn’t put a moratorium on new leases. It’s a pause to review the federal fossil fuel program,” Haaland responded. “I know that there are still thousands of leases and thousands of permits that are moving forward.”

Barrasso then asked Haaland that, if she were to be confirmed as Secretary of the Interior, would she tell Biden that “it’s unwise to continue the pause as a permanent ban.”

“I don’t believe that it is a permanent ban, Senator. I am more than happy to work with you and to work with, of course at the pleasure of the president, and along with, if I’m confirmed, my colleagues to make sure we’re doing everything we can to create jobs for Americans,” Haaland responded.

Biden announced the 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits in January after taking office. The order does not affect all drilling or projects that are already ongoing, as previously reported. Biden also signed an order revoking permits for the continued construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.