Sullivan Blasts Biden Orders Targeting Blue Collar Jobs and Energy Sector

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) rebuked President Joe Biden on the floor of the Senate yesterday after the new administration issued a series of orders and regulatory reviews targeting Alaska and other resource development states, the energy sector, and thousands of blue collar American jobs. The actions taken by the Biden administration this week include issuing a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the non-wilderness Coastal Plain (1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), revoking the 2017 presidential permit authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and suspending all new oil, gas, and mining authorizations for activities on federal lands and waters for 60 days. Sullivan said that these actions will cause significant hardship and job losses for potentially thousands of Alaskans and Americans who are already struggling from the economic challenges caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The first few days of the new Biden administration have seen an unprecedented assault on resource development and energy jobs, an attack on the men and women—working men and women with good wages—who produce really important resources for this great nation and now for other countries because we export a lot of these resources,”Senator Sullivan said. “It is an assault on good energy jobs, good resource development jobs that have been the bedrock of millions of middle-class Americans for decades.”

For the past four years, Senator Sullivan worked with his Alaska congressional delegation colleagues and senior administration officials to cultivate a “renaissance” of responsible domestic energy production, led by projects in Alaska, that would help lessen America’s reliance on foreign sources of oil and gas and create new jobs for Alaskans and Americans.

Below is a full transcript of Senator Sullivan’s remarks:

Madam President, I want to congratulate now-Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on his confirmation to be secretary of defense. I spoke yesterday about his confirmation, the two votes that had to happen. I had the honor of introducing this great American at his confirmation hearing at the Armed Services Committee. I served with him in the military many years ago. And I think he is going to be an important addition to President Biden's team.

One of the things that we have been working on, over the last several years, is rebuilding our military after drastic cuts by the Obama-Biden administration. Hopefully, we are not going to see that again. One of the reasons I was strongly supporting now-Secretary Austin was because I believe--and I certainly hope this is a correct belief, and I have commitments from him--he won't agree with that, although I am sure some, unfortunately, in this body and others in the Biden administration are going to agree with drastic cuts to the military. It will hurt readiness. So one of the reasons that I think he is going to be a good Secretary is not just his exceptional character, humility, leadership but because he knows what will happen if there are dramatic cuts like there were in the second term of the Obama-Biden administration to our military. Not good.

One of the things I had the opportunity to talk to him about--one of the things that has been a huge positive for America over the last decade, for so many reasons, is that we have become the world's energy superpower again--like we were, essentially, during World War II. 

What do I mean by that? Prior to the pandemic, we were the No. 1 producer of oil. Yes, people still need to use oil. I know some of my colleagues in this body don't believe that, but it is true; the No. 1 producer of natural gas, clean burning natural gas. We are starting to export it all around the world; No. 1 producer of renewables. So all of the above, America is the superpower of energy.

This is good. It is great for the national security of our nation, for a whole host of reasons. General Austin understands that--Secretary Austin understands that. It is great for jobs. In the 2008-2009 recession, the No. 1 sector of the economy that got us out of the great recession was the energy sector, in terms of GDP growth and jobs.

It is great for the environment. Why do I say that? Some people tilt their heads. It is great for the environment because in America--certainly, in my state, Alaska--we have the highest standards on the environment of any place in the world by far. It is not even close. If you need energy, which you do, you should do it, produce it in the place that respects the environment the most--not Russia, not Saudi Arabia--America, Alaska.

It is good for energy security. It is good for manufacturing low-cost natural gas throughout the country. Like I said, it is really good for jobs. These are really good jobs. Resource development jobs are really good jobs. They support working families and the middle class. Everybody knows that. That is a good thing that is happening in the United States of America.

There are some fringe groups that don't like energy. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues in the Senate don't like hydrocarbons. By the way, as we became the world's energy superpower, our greenhouse gas emissions declined probably more than any other industrialized economy in the world. Why? Because natural gas is clean-burning. So this is a win-win-win-win-win on so many fronts. 

Here is why I am speaking right now: Because it is all at risk. It is all at risk. The first few days of the new Biden Administration have seen an unprecedented assault on resource development and energy jobs, an attack on the men and women--working men and women with good wages--who produce really important resources for this great Nation and now for other countries because we export a lot of these resources. It is an assault on good energy jobs, good resource development jobs that have been the bedrock of millions of middle-class Americans for decades.

Let me just give you an example, just in my State. Everybody knows about ANWR, right? This body moved in terms of legislation for leases. We did it the right way, with a law passed by the Senate and the House, signed by the President to move forward on leases. 

The first day on the job, the new President decides he is going to suspend everything with regard to ANWR. OK, that wasn't a surprise, to be honest, but, of course, it was a huge disappointment. I am not sure it is legal. Like I said, we did it the legal way. He is doing it the old-fashioned, ``Obama pen and phone'' way. There are probably a lot of questionable legalities there. That is one. We were expecting that. 

Here is the other one. We have another part of Alaska called the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, set aside by Congress for oil and gas development. It is not controversial. We have been doing it for decades. It was originally called the Naval Petroleum Reserve for America. This is not controversial. And we have a lot of energy projects in the NPRA that are ongoing. Heck, even the Obama-Biden administration allowed us to drill there because that is what Congress said for decades, and it is good for the country.

We need energy. We need energy. So if we need it, shouldn't we get it from America? Shouldn't we get it from American workers? That is better than getting it from Russia. The NPRA is a really important area of America's energy production in my State--the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. It has been that way for decades. 

So there is a moratorium on any more permits for energy production in the NPRA yesterday. I woke up to text messages from Alaskans saying: Senator, help us. My little company is going to go out of business. I have to lay off a bunch of workers. Workers who are doing what? Producing American energy. Since when was that bad, Mr. President? Since when was that bad?

One more thing, they say: Well, it is only a 60-day moratorium.

In Alaska, because we have the highest standards in the world on producing energy, exploring for energy, we only do exploration in the winter. It costs more for energy companies. Why do we do that? Because it is the high standards that we have--the highest standards of any place on the planet Earth. What do I mean by that?

We build what are called ice roads and ice pads on the tundra when we explore and when we drill. That means we just do it in the winter. You build these ice roads and ice pads that cost a lot of money and when you move equipment across the tundra on ice, you drill for 3 months and when the winter is over, you move it off. The ice melts, and there is not one tiny impact. It is called zero-impact drilling and exploration. 

I used to be in charge of this in Alaska. I am very familiar with it. We have the highest standards on the planet. So if you put a 60-day moratorium on drilling on the NPRA, guess what. You lose the whole season. You lose the whole season. That is what the Biden Administration did yesterday. I literally have people back home in my great State calling frantically saying hundreds--if not thousands--of jobs are at risk. That was day two of the Biden administration: Let's crush every single energy job in America.

Why? I don't know why. I don't know why.

Since when is it bad to produce energy for your fellow Americans? We need it. We have the highest standards in the world. These are great middle-class jobs. But on day one in this administration, they are attacking the men and women who produce energy for this great Nation--shameful.

Now, it is not just me who is a little bit upset. You can tell I am a little bit upset. The Keystone pipeline was canceled again--again, no idea why they would do that. There is nothing about climate change. As a matter of fact, that pipeline was going to be all union jobs, and they had it developed and worked on in a way that was going to be emissions neutral.

Here is the head of the Laborers' International Union of North America--LIUNA, the laborers. Terry O'Sullivan is a great American. I know him well. His father was a marine. He served in the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean war.

Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a statement by Terry O'Sullivan on behalf of the Laborers' International Union of North America 

This is a statement by Terry O'Sullivan: 

“The Biden Administration's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit on day one of his presidency is both insulting and disappointing to the thousands of hard-working LIUNA members who will lose good-paying, middle class family-supporting jobs.”

By the way, LIUNA is the largest labor union in construction, the largest labor construction union in America--500,000 members.

“By blocking this 100 percent union project, and pandering to environmental extremists, a thousand union jobs will immediately vanish and 10,000 additional jobs will be foregone.” 

That is day one. This isn't me talking, the senator from Alaska. This is the head of LIUNA.

“We support the President's campaign to `build back better.' But for union members affected by this decision, there are no renewable energy jobs that come even close to replacing the wages and benefits the Keystone XL project would have provided. Killing good union jobs on day one with nothing to replace them is not building back better.”

This is, again, Terry O'Sullivan, head of LIUNA. 

This is Mark McManus, General President of the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters. They were going to build the Keystone pipeline, too, just like the LIUNA members: 

“In revoking this permit, the Biden Administration has chosen to listen to the voices of fringe activists instead of union members and the American consumer on Day 1. Let me be very clear: When built with union labor by the men and women of the United Association pipelines like Keystone XL remain the safest and most efficient modes of energy transportation in the world. Sadly, the Biden Administration has now put thousands of union workers out of work. 

Let me close with this. There are a number of Senators who want to meet directly with the president on this issue. By the way, when they made these announcements about Alaska, no one from the Biden administration reached out. No one called me. No one called Senator Murkowski. No one called Congressman Young. You would think if they were going to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in your State, that somebody would have reached out to us.

I just spent the last week working hard to make sure the Biden administration's secretary of defense got confirmed. I probably worked harder than any other Senator in this body on that issue. I did that because I think it is going to be good for the military, good for America.

But we are trying. We are trying. I haven't heard from one person on the Biden Administration. A number of us tried to request a meeting with the president. The president talks a lot about his blue-collar background. Great, but guess what: The president is killing blue-collar jobs right now by the thousands. A lot of them are in my state. 

I hope somebody in the new administration is listening to this. I hope he realizes what he is doing. We are in this pandemic. Our economy needs to grow. We have high unemployment. The idea that you would start your administration by targeting the men and women who have built this great Nation, who have good-paying jobs is astounding to me.

Mr. President--I am not talking about the president of the Senate, Madam President, I am talking about the president of the United States--you need to listen to us. This is not a good start. You talked in your inauguration about putting yourself in other people's shoes. Well, I hope you put yourself in the shoes of the energy workers in America whom you are crushing right now. Put yourself in their shoes and maybe rethink these crazy, crazy policies that are only harming Americans throughout the country.

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