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President-elect Joe Biden’s nominees to lead the EPA and Interior Department could face tough Senate questioning over their past opposition to fossil-fuel projects.
“We will be in a bit of a brawl,” said Senator Kevin Cramer of oil- and coal-rich North Dakota, during an appearance on Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Co.”
$69.9B Renewable power investment worldwide in Q2 2020
50,820 Million metric tons of greenhouse emissions, most recent annual data 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 2 1 0 9 8 0 3 2 1 0 9 Soccer pitches of forest lost this hour, most recent data 58% Carbon-free net power in the U.K., most recent data
Bishkek, KyrgyzstanMost polluted air today, in sensor range +0.97° C Nov. 2020 increase in global temperature vs. 1900s average 0 6 5 4 3 2 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 7 6 5 4 3 .0 2 1 0 9 8 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 8 7 6 5 4 0 4 3 2 1 0 0 6 5 4 3 2 0 1 0 9 8 7 Parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere
“We’re going to have to stand our ground and fight the fight,” Cramer said.
Criticism has focused on Representative Deb Haaland, Biden’s pick to lead the Interior Department, because of her past support for the Green New Deal and endorsement of a ban on fracking, the oil industry technique that has boosted U.S. oil production to record levels.
Oil and gas industry leaders have already encouraged senators to scrutinize Haaland’s record and the economic impact of a ban on drilling and fracking on federally owned land, which could cost eight Western states more $300 billion over two decades, according to an analysis released by Wyoming’s Republican governor this week.
The Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico said Thursday it had “serious concerns” about Haaland’s nomination, saying she “has repeatedly demonstrated contempt toward our industry.”
Conservatives are also raising questions about Michael Regan, the top North Carolina environmental regulator Biden has tapped to be Environmental Protection Agency administrator, because he opposed a proposed natural gas pipeline and battled a Trump-era rule scaling back the water bodies subject to federal oversight.
Representatives of the Biden-Harris transition did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, pledged to keep an open mind. Barrasso is slated next year to head the Energy and Natural Resources Committee that will vet Haaland’s nomination, if the GOP retains control of the Senate.
“America’s public lands and natural resources are critical to the economy in Wyoming and across the West,” Barrasso said in an emailed statement. “While I have not had the opportunity to work with Representative Haaland on these issues, I will keep an open mind during the vetting process.”
If confirmed, Haaland would be expected to carry out Biden’s policy priorities. Biden has said he doesn’t support a widespread ban on fracking on private lands, which would require action from Congress. However, he has promised to stop it on federal lands and waters, which provide about 22% of total U.S. crude production, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Coal, oil and gas development on federal lands is responsible for 24% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Geological Survey.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised Biden’s picks for top energy and environmental posts, saying they “will be transformational in Democrats’ mission to achieve a clean energy future — and to do so in a way that is just, equitable, sustainable and science-based.”
Environmentalists have warned against prioritizing the oil industry’s needs over a global climate crisis but have argued it’s important to ensure a just transition for fossil fuel workers whose jobs could be displaced by a rapid shift to renewable energy sources.
Veteran Republican strategists predict the Senate will ultimately confirm both Haaland and Regan.
Haaland will probably “get through without too much difficulty,” said Republican energy consultant Mike McKenna. “The bigger question is whether she will faithfully carry out Mr. Biden’s promise to end oil and gas development and/or fracking on federal lands, because to do such a thing would destroy a pretty big chunk of New Mexico’s economy and create a significant hole in the state’s budget.”
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