Photo: Bill Cassidy; Source: His official website

Senator Cassidy introduces bill in attempt to block leasing halt

Republican senators from oil-producing states, led by Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, introduced legislation that would block the Biden administration’s order pausing new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

Senator Bill Cassidy, along with 24 other senators, presented the bill on Thursday. If the bill passes, congressional approval would be necessary for any suspension of fossil-fuel leasing or permitting on public lands and waters.

Federal lands and water don’t belong to President Biden; they belong to the people of the United States. We should use these resources to power our country and keep Americans employed. This bill installs needed safeguards to ensure that no president can unilaterally pull the plug on American energy production and put thousands out of work the way this president is trying to do”, Cassidy said.

Introduction of the bill named the Protecting our Wealth of Energy Resources (POWER) Act of 2021, would prohibit the president or his secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Energy departments from blocking energy or mineral leasing and permitting on federal lands and waters without Congressional approval. 

The bill came just a day after President Biden put a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal land as part of his climate change agenda.

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Apart from Cassidy, the bill was supported by senators Cynthia Lummis, John Barrasso, Marsha Blackburn, John Boozman, Shelley Moore Capito, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn, Kevin Cramer, Mike Crapo, Ted Cruz, Steve Daines, John Hoeven, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Jim Inhofe, Ron Johnson, John Kennedy, Mike Lee, Roger Marshall, James Risch, Mitt Romney, Dan Sullivan, Pat Toomey, Tommy Tuberville, and Roger Wicker.

Cassidy is a senator from Louisiana while the group of senators supporting the bill represents 16 more states – Wyoming, Tennessee, Arkansas, West Virginia, Texas, North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Utah, Kansas, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Alabama.

A U.S. House of Representatives companion version of the bill is being sponsored by Representative Yvette Herrell and co-sponsored by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman, among others.

This bill just adds to the already not universally positive response the leasing halt has received from the API, IAGC, IPAA, and NOIA which described it as “short-sighted”, “in reality a ban”, “obliteration of jobs”, and “a step backwards for the U.S. economy” as well as a move that has “no shortage of negative consequences”.