Wyoming Senator Barrasso: Biden’s Energy Policies a ‘Sledgehammer to the Economies of Western States’

Workers unload pipes in May 2015 for the proposed Dakota Access oil pipeline that would stretch from the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota to Illinois.
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) wrote in an op-ed on Monday that President Joe Biden’s decisions to halt the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and stop issuing drilling leases on federal land will do great damage to the economies in many western states dependent on oil and gas revenues.

“These orders will take a sledgehammer to the economies of Western states without putting a dent in climate change,” Barrasso, who is ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wrote in the commentary.

“A federal leasing ban would kill an estimated 62,000 jobs in New Mexico, nearly 120,000 in Texas and more than 33,000 in my home state of Wyoming next year alone, according to the American Petroleum Institute,” Barrasso wrote. “It will also eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that these states depend on for public schools, roads, water projects and other essential services.”

“In response to the Keystone cancellation, TC Energy has announced 1,000 layoffs, and the potential union jobs lost could be 10 times higher,” Barrasso wrote.

Barrasso noted that Jennifer Granholm, Biden’s nominee to be energy secretary, said at her confirmation hearing that some energy jobs “might be sacrificed.” 

“Handing out pink slips will not unite red states and blue states,” said Barrasso, who repeated that Biden’s policies will not have a real impact on climate change.

In the case of Keystone, oil from Canada will still make its way across the U.S. by way of trucks or railways. And if the U.S. is forced to import oil to meet energy demands it would likely come from countries that have much less regulations and that could actually have a negative impact on the climate.

Barrasso burnished his climate change credentials in the op-ed by citing his role in passing the first highway infrastructure bill that addressed climate change, supported by Republicans and Democrats.

“We worked together to pass a historic, bipartisan environmental innovation law,” Barrasso wrote. “It supports the development of groundbreaking technologies like carbon capture and carbon use, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions from school buses, trucks, refrigerators and air conditioners. We succeeded in making sure these measures would not raise costs or cost Americans their jobs.”

While giving a nod to the importance of pursuing renewable energy, Barrasso also wrote about the known fact that oil and gas will be a part of the U.S. energy landscape for decades to come.

“America and the world will continue to use fuels like oil, natural gas and coal for the foreseeable future,” Barrasso wrote. “Banning U.S. production of these fuels weakens our energy security and undermines our economic strength. It will saddle Americans with higher energy bills, an additional burden as the nation struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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