At the start of a hearing Tuesday, Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso laid out his belief that the Biden administration violated federal energy laws not once but numerous times.
The Republican Senator, a vocal critic of the President’s energy policies cited a long list of claims before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources where Tommy P. Beaudreau, Deputy Secretary of the Interior was to testify. The hearing focused on the Department of the Interior’s implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Thanks so much Mr. Chairman, and thanks for holding today’s hearing.
“In November of 2021, Congress passed a $415 billion spending bill.
“It has been called an ‘infrastructure’ bill.
“But, in reality, the legislation also lavished billions of taxpayer dollars on programs that have absolutely nothing to do with infrastructure.
“The Congressional Budget Office has said that this legislation will increase our nation’s deficits by $256 billion over the next ten years.
“And we now know that this legislation – along with the much larger partisan Democrat spending bills – contributed to the highest inflation in our nation in the last 40 years.
“Under this legislation, Congress appropriated over $28 billion to the Department of the Interior.
“That is nearly twice the amount of – and in addition to – the Department’s annual budget of $14.5 billion.
“I’m glad we have an opportunity to hear from the deputy secretary today.
“I’m interested in learning what, if any, controls and protocols the department has put in place to ensure it doesn’t waste taxpayer dollars.
“I’d also like to know whether the department has taken any steps to reduce the inflationary impact that this massive spending bill has on communities across the country.
“Annual inflation is still above seven percent.
“Energy inflation is still above 13 percent.
“Americans are continuing to suffer from higher energy prices and higher food prices.
“And President Biden continues to sit on his hands.
“He’s been in office for nearly two years.
“Under the Mineral Leasing Act, the secretary of the Interior is required to hold quarterly lease sales in each state with oil and gas resources.
“In other words, the secretary was required to hold a total of eight lease sales in each of these states over the last two years.
“But the secretary has held only a single lease sale in these states during that time – ignoring the law.
“To make matters worse, the department has indicated that it will hold only one lease sale next year.
“Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the secretary was required to hold three offshore oil and gas lease sales this year.
“Instead, the secretary cancelled those lease sales in May – again in violation of the law.
“The secretary was also required to issue a final 5-year leasing plan at the end of June.
“The secretary not only missed that deadline, she has issued a draft plan that considers ending offshore oil and gas leasing altogether – that’s not what the law says.
“Mr. Deputy Secretary, last year, you publicly stated that your objective is to ‘fundamentally change these programs…to get us on a path to decarbonizing public lands.’
“I’m deeply troubled that you believe you can ‘fundamentally change’ the oil and natural gas leasing programs, which Congress has established in federal law.
“I’m equally troubled that you think ‘decarbonizing public lands’ is the goal of these programs because it is not.
“Since taking office, President Biden has gone hat in hand to some of the world’s worst dictators, begging them to produce more oil.
“That specifically includes going to Vladimir Putin in Russia before the invasion of Ukraine; specifically going in person to Saudi Arabia; going to Iran; going to Venezuela.
“Each of these dictators have rejected his requests.
“Meanwhile, U.S. crude oil production is still 1 million barrels a day below pre-pandemic levels.
“And the department is ignoring federal law as it tries to end oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
“American families are hurting.
“Gasoline is still a heck of a lot higher than the day when Joe Biden came to office in spite of releasing a million barrels a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve – our emergency reserve – a million barrels a day for the last six months – 180 million barrels.
“Diesel is still 76 percent higher than when President Biden took office.
“Just last week, it was 2 dollars a gallon more in Wyoming than regular gasoline.
“In addition, Americans’ electricity and natural gas bills are rapidly increasing.
“The department must stop blocking access to America’s oil and natural gas resources.
“It needs to follow the law and put the interests of the American people first.
“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”