Barrasso: Department of the Interior Has Done Everything Possible to Shut Down American Oil & Gas

May 19, 2022

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered remarks at a full committee hearing to examine the president’s budget request for the Department of the Interior for Fiscal Year 2023. 

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Deb Haaland, secretary of the Interior. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thanks so much, Mr. Chairman, for your very strong and compelling statement about the needs for affordable energy on a day that gas prices continue to hit highs across the country. 

“American consumers are suffering significantly. 

“The administration doesn’t seem to care very much about what the impact is on American  families who are trying to buy gasoline and at the same time buy groceries and at the same time send kids to school and buy clothing and maybe consider something they’d like to do for the summer. 

“The gasoline prices that are the result of the administration’s activities, specifically the Department of the Interior’s activities. 

“It is very challenging for American families, which is no surprise then, that under this administration three out of four Americans think this country is headed in the wrong direction. 

“I’m very happy that you’re holding this hearing today and very happy for the very strong statement that you’ve had, Mr. Chairman, much more reflective of the needs of the American people than of the needs and demands of the climate elitists of this country who are running this administration. 

“I do want to thank the secretary for being here to testify today. 

“The Department of the Interior is the steward for 20 percent of America’s lands and much of America’s waters. 

“Most of this land is in the West. 

“In Wyoming, half our land is owned by the federal government. 

“That includes Indian Reservations, Wildlife Refuges, National Parks, National Recreation Areas, and vast Bureau of Land Management holdings. 

“In Wyoming, we are very proud of our national parks and all of our parks. 

“Each year we host millions of visitors. 

“They come to enjoy the spectacular views and iconic wildlife of the Grand Tetons and of Yellowstone National Park. 

“This year is a landmark year for Wyoming and the Park Service as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone. 

“The department also manages water, fights wildfires, oversees grazing, and facilitates outdoor recreation. 

“The West is confronting a historic drought. 

“With reservoirs drying up, it concerns me that the Bureau of Reclamation was the only bureau at the Interior Department that was actually cut in the budget request this year. 

“The department needs to prioritize our rural, ranching and farming communities. 

“Without water to grow their crops and raise cattle, these communities would not exist, and the food needs of the people would be even more dire and more expensive. 

“The department also oversees much of America’s energy reserves. 

“No department plays a more critical role in enabling or undermining American energy production. 

“It seems today that this department is undermining American energy production. 

“With inflation at a 40-year high, and energy prices skyrocketing, the job as secretary of the Interior is pivotal. 

“During the last year, gas prices have repeatedly hit new records, forcing American families to spend more on filling their tanks. 

“Every day I hear from Wyoming families worried about making ends meet because of skyrocketing energy costs. 

“A prediction this morning, Mr. Chairman, talking now six dollars a gallon for gasoline this summer all across the United States. 

“There’s no place you can go that’s less than four dollars a gallon. 

“During this energy crisis, when the department could be opening up abundant American oil and gas reserves, the Department of the Interior has done everything possible to shut them down. 

“The president says he wants his administration to encourage more American energy. 

“Instead your department stalls, postpones, and kills oil and natural gas lease sales. 

“Your department is undermining domestic energy production – not expediting it. 

“The results are apparent. 

“Since President Biden took office, Americans have become much more dependent on foreign sources of energy. 

“Meanwhile, the administration has spent much of its time begging our adversaries to produce more oil.  

“You said it right, Mr. Chairman.

“Well before the war in Ukraine, the administration and the president directly was even begging Russia for more oil – they even put it on the White House website. 

“It is not just oil – it’s natural gas, coal.  

“We have plentiful minerals in this country.

“We need to find ways to increase, not decrease, production of our nation’s most abundant natural resources. 

“It was not long ago that the shale revolution helped make our nation energy dominant. 

“America was uniquely positioned to help our allies free themselves from the yoke of Russian energy. 

“Sadly, this administration has brought us to a counter-revolution, complete with higher prices and a weaker economy – not what a president should be proud of. 

“The American people’s polling shows the American people are very disturbed by what this administration is doing. 

“Now is the time to reverse course. 

“I hope we can begin to identify areas where we can work together to make American energy dominant again. 

“By working to restore American energy dominance, this Department of the Interior could play an important role in reducing the economic distress that has been caused by this administration on millions of Americans. 

“I hope you and the administration will seize the moment and reverse your destructive course, and it is self-destructive. 

“Members of the committee are also concerned with your department’s failure to respect Senate oversight responsibilities. 

“You promised this wouldn’t happen, but it has. 

“It was only two weeks ago that we finally received responses to questions for the record from last year’s budget hearing. 

“A pattern has become very clear in this administration, this department specifically.   

“After delaying, obstructing, and outright ignoring this committee, the responses failed to provide answers to the questions that were posed to you. 

“Madam Secretary, this too needs to change. 

“I look forward to your testimony. 

“Thank you for joining us today.”