Over 100 Republican lawmakers have signed an open letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to revoke his executive order which placed a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling leases on federal land.
"This ill-conceived policy will devastate a major sector of our economy while millions of Americans are unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis," the letter reads. "Additionally, this policy will handicap essential environmental restoration programs across the country by destroying a critical source of conservation funding: revenues from conventional energy production."
They later pointed out that $150 million is provided annually to the country's Historic Preservation Fund through oil and gas drilling revenue.
The order, which Biden signed during his first week in office, placed an indefinite moratorium on all oil and gas drilling, expanding a previous directive from the Department of Interior which placed a similar moratorium for 60 days.
The executive order created exemptions for American Indian tribes who expressed outrage at the original Department of Interior order, which did not exclude them. Many of these tribes have their right to drill on federal land protected by treaties.
The order received criticism when it was issued, with many suggesting that it would damage the American economic recovery as the country opens up its economy.
The Republicans' letter criticized the Biden administration's goal of closing off 30 percent of all US land and waters to resource extraction, arguing that the goal is "arbitrary" and that it "could permanently damage state economies and increase our nation's reliance on foreign sources of energy and critical minerals." The letter points to large oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia, noting that their environmental standards are significantly weaker than those of the United States and importing oil and gas from them as opposed to producing it domestically would likely increase global carbon emissions.
They also pointed out that less than 30 percent of American land is owned by the federal government, so even closing off 100 percent of it to resource extraction would not cover the goal.
The lawmakers also blasted Biden for his decision to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline via executive order, a campaign promise of his. Republicans argued that the cancellation has caused the loss of thousands of jobs both now and in the future.
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