Republican Majority Passes Industry Wish List Agenda, Rejects Amendments on Climate Change, Environmental Justice, Puerto Rico Recovery

Press Release

Date: Feb. 7, 2023
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Oil and Gas

At this morning's House Natural Resources Committee markup, the Republican majority voted to pass their Authorization and Oversight Plan for the 118th Congress, along party lines. The plan, as Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) pointed out in his opening statement, is a check list of the fossil fuel and mining industries biggest asks, including opening public lands and oceans to more drilling, stripping public input from permitting, and attacking essential protections like the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Despite the Committee's broad jurisdiction over public lands, waters, oceans, Indigenous peoples' issues, and U.S. Insular Areas, the majority's Oversight Plan is effectively devoid of any meaningful action on climate change. Fossil fuel production on public lands alone accounts for nearly a quarter of the country's carbon pollution, making the Committee's work instrumental in the climate change fight. In addition, our oceans--also under the Committee's jurisdiction--absorb 25 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions and capture 90 percent of the excess heat generated by these emissions, making them our "greatest ally against climate change."

To correct these major deficiencies, Ranking Member Grijalva introduced an amendment to insert a section on climate change and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to understand how federal fossil fuel activities disproportionately impact communities of color, low-income communities, and Indigenous communities. In addition, Rep. M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to add oversight of disaster recovery in Puerto Rico and reconstruction of the electric grid to the plan. All amendments were voted down along party lines.

Ranking Member Grijalva's opening statement at today's full Committee markup is below:

"As Members of the House Natural Resources Committee, we are charged with the historic, undeniable, and consequential task of protecting our planet from climate change and improving the quality of life for our communities and for the generations to come.

This Authorization and Oversight Plan proves that Committee Republicans are not yet ready to meet that charge, or frankly, accept or understand the challenge before us.

I do have to credit my colleagues' plan for finally acknowledging that something must be done about the single most profound issue of our era.

However, that "something" leaves much to be desired. In particular, the plan includes a brief mention of climate change--I think twice--in the Oversight Plan and offers "solutions" of improving cattle grazing practices and planting trees, as the primary solutions to deal with this consequential issue of climate change.

They're nice ideas for discussion if you're just now joining the conversation.

But 25% of our nation's carbon pollution comes from our public lands, and yet this plan contains no serious prescription for reducing the fossil fuel drilling behind that pollution -- it shouldn't and can't be taken seriously.

Not only does the plan fail to address the climate crisis and environmental injustice, but it also tries to roll back the progress Congress made over the last two sessions of Congress.

Instead, the plan is an oil industry to-do list. The American Petroleum Institute's annual report lays out their wishes, and the Committee's plan dutifully promises to carry them out.

Increase disaster-prone drilling off our coasts? Check. Increase destructive drilling on our public lands? Check. Attack the environmental reviews of major projects? Check.

And all this is happening while the oil companies are price gouging the American people.

ExxonMobil raked in $58 billion dollars in profit in 2022 while complaining loudly about how we haven't given away enough public lands to them. For Shell, it was $42 billion dollars in profit. ConocoPhillips? $19 billion dollars. Each of these represented an increase in profits over 2021. Too much is never enough.

And don't be surprised if part of the energy policy of the majority on this Committee will be to deal with the issue of royalty relief for these poor, impoverished corporations, and Big Oil companies in America.

The plan for this Committee should address the climate emergency with urgency and seriousness.

The plan should put forward a serious effort to ensure that Indigenous Peoples and the communities on the frontlines of environmental harm have seats at the table in federal decision-making.

It should foster the political self-determination and economic development of our U.S. Territories.

It should conserve our natural resources by promoting ocean health, protecting wildlife, safeguarding irreplaceable landscapes, preserving our public lands, and ensuring clean air and water.

And it should build an economy that works for everyone. No matter how much oil and gas we produce here, it will always be vulnerable to a global market, which allows far-away dictators to cause price shocks across the world.

Clean, domestic renewable energy is the future for energy independence.

Today, my colleagues and I will offer some amendments to try to make the proposed plan into a document worthy of the Committee, worthy of its jurisdiction, worthy of its historic role, and worthy of the American people. With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back."