SPEECH: Biden Slows American Oil & Gas Production

Mr. President, the American people--the world--is watching a really horrendous, barbaric, horrible situation in Ukraine; and we are all praying for the people there, trying to do as much as we can to support them. And this barbarism we are seeing from Vladimir Putin is something I don't think anyone is ever going to forget. 

We can't let it stand. We need to use all instruments of American power--with our allies--to work to address this long term because this is a long-term problem--the new era of authoritarian aggression led by Putin, led by Xi Jinping--and we need to be able to address it.

One of these instruments of American power that we have had until recently, in a bipartisan way--every President has supported being an energy producer, being an energy superpower, being a country that is energy independent. 

And I don't have to tell the Presiding Officer, but this has been highlighted by the current crisis. What has happened is the American people--really, the world--have awoken to the fact that the Biden administration came into office and, instead of building on what they inherited from the Trump administration, which, again, was a bipartisan goal of American foreign policy, American energy policy, American domestic policy--for decades, every President--every President--wanted America to be energy independent.

President Obama used to talk about this, all-of-the-above energy: oil, gas, renewables; Jimmy Carter, of course; Donald Trump; George W. Bush. I mean, it dates back for decades, until the Biden administration. 

And, of course, they came in and on day one said: We are going to start shutting down the production of American energy. That is a fact. I am going to go through a lot of the facts. I am going to go through some detailed memos that are still in existence that show that this is exactly their policy.

Now, what has happened in the last 2 weeks? The American people have started to realize: Oh, my gosh, my own government is trying to make it harder for us to produce American energy. How does that make sense? In what world does that make sense? 

And the average American--always very smart, by the way, much smarter than the people in DC--is raising the alarm bells, saying: Wait a minute. Why would we do that? It hurts us at home. It drives up energy prices. 

The President is calling it Putin's energy increases. That is ridiculous. Energy prices have been going up since this administration got into office because of this administration's policies. 

Good try, Mr. President. That is not going to work. 

So the American people are saying: It is hurting us at home. It is raising costs on my family. 

But they are now realizing: Whoa, this is really bad for our foreign policy and national security too, when you have a war like what is going on in Ukraine.

So all of a sudden, you see the Biden administration--from the President on down and his whole team--starting to scramble. They are starting to hide their policy that has been driven by a far-left radical agenda and is really hurtful to everybody. By the way, it doesn't help the environment one bit, not one bit. I will come down here in another speech and talk about how it hurts the environment. 

And it is almost funny to watch this happen if this weren't such a serious topic. It is almost funny. As a matter of fact, to one Cabinet official, it was funny. Go Google the Secretary Granholm interview--I forget which news station--when she was asked, ``Hey, are you going to help produce more oil for America?'' She literally starts cracking up, laughing. She is laughing.

It is not funny, Madam Secretary. So now, the White House is scrambling with made-up stories, made-up rationales. You see the Press Secretary kind of trying to talk about this issue. No offense to her. She is pretty talented, but she doesn't know anything about energy. 

But they are scrambling because no one is laughing. No one is laughing. The Secretary of Energy might be laughing about this topic, but no one is laughing. Working families in America aren't laughing. The energy workers that this administration has moved to hand pink slips to aren't laughing. Our allies in Europe aren't laughing. Ukrainians aren't laughing.

The only ones who might be laughing are the Venezuelans and the Iranians who this administration is now going and begging for oil from. They might be laughing.

So it is a really serious topic. And, as I mentioned, the energy price rise that we have seen across the last year--gas prices were almost up 50 percent prior to the invasion of Ukraine by Putin. So we know what is going on because it is no secret. 

When the President was campaigning--again, I don't think these were really his views but driven by the far-left that he had to get their vote on--he vowed that he would do exactly what he did on day one. Here is the President in a debate in 2019: I have argued against any more drilling. No more drilling--oil or gas drilling on Federal lands. I will not allow it anymore.

That is the President of the United States.

Now, on day one, he did just that. He did just that. He started out to keep these campaign promises. We know he canceled the Keystone Pipeline. They put a ``pause''--I am going to talk about that--on Federal leasing and permitting, something that really impacted my State. He signed an Executive order to crack down on oil and gas production. He canceled the legally acquired leases that my State has in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because this body voted for it, signed it into law. The President, in a blatantly illegal move, said: I am not going to allow these leases, even though the Congress of the United States and the President of the United States previously passed a law saying they had to be executed. 

And just 2 weeks ago, the administration froze new drilling permits and stopped issuing new leases on Federal lands because they continue to be driven by a far-left agenda that nobody in the United States is supporting right now. 

Well, Madam President, I want to dig a little deeper into what happened on day one. 

So what happened here--I have an order. This is an order--order No. 3395 from the Acting Secretary of the Interior, a guy by the name of Scott de la Vega. I have never heard of him. Never heard of him. Who in the heck is that?

It was dated January 20, 2021, so that is day one. That is day one. Some guy named Scott de la Vega--I don't know who he is, but I guess he was Acting Secretary of the Interior--and he lays out in this memo everything that should be suspended, everything in America, to stop producing any natural resources for 60 days. OK? 

That is your government at work, America, right here: Scott de la Vega hereby temporarily suspends--and then they have a whole list of things that deal with oil, gas, minerals, rights of way--anything on Federal lands--all stopped. If that is not a far-left radical agenda, I don't know what is. 

It says that people above him--the Secretary, Deputy Secretary--they can rescind that after 60 days. But there is no one above him. This is day one. There is nobody even confirmed. That is why Scott de la Vega was Acting Secretary of the Interior. Don't be fooled. This is an order on day one from the Biden administration to shut down the production of American energy. Your government at work, America. 

What happened across the country? I can tell you what happened in my State. This set up a mad scramble in Alaska. I was getting phone calls, literally, from this memo. I didn't know anything about it. 


What was happening here? 

In my State, because we have the highest environmental standards in the world on oil and gas development, on mineral development, we do our exploration only in the winter--only in the winter. About a 3-month period--January, February, March, April--4 months, because we create ice roads and ice paths. These are giant roads of ice and giant paths of ice that can take out giant drill rigs on the tundra. We do our exploration then, and then we bring it off in 4 months. The ice roads melt, and there is zero impact. It is called zero impact exploration. OK? It is expensive, but we do that in Alaska because we really care about our environment. We know how to do both: protect our environment and develop our resources. We only have about 3 to 4 months to even do this work every winter.

So I had a bunch of Alaskans--hundreds, thousands--out doing the work of America--oil and gas development. Old Mr. de la Vega comes out day one of the Biden administration and says, We are going to suspend any lease or permit.

When you are in the oil and gas industry, you are constantly having to get additional permits--what they call ATDs, applications to drill--to build an ice road, to do other things that are way beyond leases--Jen Psaki--way beyond leases. You have to get these permits reviewed and updated very frequently. 

They said: No issuing of anything.

I get a call--I will give you one example--from a company that almost 300 people do an exploration for. They were just told: You are not going to get anything else for 60 days. They couldn't do anything. They are going to fire all 300 people. 

We scrambled. We made phone calls. We tried to get this order lifted--tried to get an exception. This was happening all across America. The Federal Government came in--the Biden administration. That was day one, and Mr. de la Vega--again, don't know who he is--issued this order: 60 days and stopped everything.

Joe Biden is out there saying: Oh, no, we really care about energy production. 

No, you don't. You are trying to kill it. That was the mad scramble. Many people were laid off. This is way beyond Keystone--10,000 laid off.

Let me go into a little more detail. After 60 days, what happened? This is really important. I really want our friends in the media to dig into this. Again, you have these things called applications to drill on Federal leases. OK? All of that was stalled for 60 days. You couldn't do a thing. This is just a year ago, right--just a year ago from this administration that is now telling the American people: Oh, no, we are fully for energy development. 

They were trying to kill it. 

OK. Normally, when you have a lease on a Federal land, you have Federal managers. I will give you the example in Alaska. In the Bureau of Land Management, they will have a field manager, right? So let's say there is a field manager for BLM in Fairbanks, AL. That man or woman has a fair amount of authority. They can issue these applications to drill, to move forward. This is a government that is not centralized, right? You want the decision-makers--who, by the way, are almost all professional career staff--to make science-based decisions--not political decisions--on these applications to drill. That is the way it works. That is the way it has always worked. 

So you have a field manager, say, in Fairbanks. You will have a district level manager in the interior part of Alaska. Then you will have one State director, the BLM State director, OK? So they usually--not even the State director. The lower-level Federal officials can issue these permits to keep the country moving, producing oil, gas. 

What happened after 60 days? After 60 days in 2021--so you have the Biden administration--Mr. de la Vega shutting down all energy production for 60 days in America. That is this order. So after 60 days, what happened? Well, there was another order issued. This was issued by a woman, an official named Laura Daniel-Davis. She is the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Land and Mineral Management. OK. Sounds kind of important. Actually, it is really important. That is the Assistant Secretary of the Interior in charge of all oil and gas and mineral development for America. It is a pretty important job. 

In the Trump administration, we had a really great Alaskan, Joe Balash. He had that job. Did a great job, by the way. So after 60 days, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Land and Mineral Management--oil and gas, mining--she issues a memo. I have it right here. I will quote from some of it. She issues a memo. What her memo says was: Hey, you have that Executive order--60-day delay by Mr. de la Vega. OK, that is running out in 2 days. This is March 19, 2021. It is not even a year old.

What she says in her order is that: You know how you guys in the Federal agencies--a field manager, the district level manager, the State director, all across America--I am giving you one example in Alaska. You know how you all have authority to issue permits to drill, things like that? That is the way it has been going on for decades and decades. Well, I, Acting Assistant Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis, I am taking that away from you. I am taking that away.

Her memo says every decision--she lists a bunch--a bunch--OK? Every decision--now, remember, nobody was able to do anything for 60 days. Now, we are saying the 60-day delay is over, but any decision you lower-level people--BLM and others--had to make on applications to drill and permits like that--hundreds and hundreds across the country--she says--I am going to quote from her:

For those matters that have been submitted in accordance with S.O. 3395-- 

She is referencing the Executive order that says stop everything. She now says: If you haven't received any kind of approval for that stuff--``If you have not received the final ASLM''--that is her decision--``you may not proceed [on any of these permits] without approval from ASLM,'' meaning her.

Think about that. This is an administration saying they really care about moving oil and gas on Federal lands forward. In the first 60 days, they say everything stopped. Then they say: All right. You are going to move forward the way it used to work--field managers, district level managers, State directors, in every State in America--no, no, no, you don't have that authority. Me, Assistant Secretary Acting--by the way, she is still not confirmed by the Senate--every one of those has to come to me for my approval--every one. Every one in Alaska, every one in New Mexico, every one in North Dakota--anywhere--by the way, all on the offshore, Gulf of Mexico--anywhere that at the lower levels in the Federal Government you had professional staff who had the authority to grant these applications to drill and other Federal permits, this memo says: No. That will be centralized under me--for America--for America--every darn decision for oil and gas production and mineral production in the country has to be approved by this Acting Assistant Secretary. 

Guess what? This memo is still in operation right now--right now. When the President of the United States looks at the American people and Jen Psaki: Oh, we are doing everything.

No, you are not. You have one person and this order. I am not going to go into her background much, but let's just face it. If you look at it, she spent her whole career trying to take out the oil and gas industry. Now, she is in charge of every decision for every permit on every Federal lease for the production of American energy in the country, and she is still in charge. You have one person. 

By the way, this is a political appointee. I don't think she is going to get confirmed because I am going to block her; that is for sure. But even some of my Democratic colleagues are like, this is going on right now, OK? My friends in the media, I hope you take a look at this.

What is really interesting here is you have someone who is a political appointee--a career trying to take out the oil and gas industry--and none of this is based on science. This is all political. They are removing the career staff, the scientists, saying: Hey, it has to be up to me. One political appointee is in charge of issuing all permits in the United States in the energy sector. It is still going on. 

This would be like if you wanted to get a loan--right--and you went to your local bank in your hometown. Let's say it was Bank of America. There was a local bank, Bank of America in your hometown. This would be like having to go to headquarters on Wall Street to get approval for your loan. Think about it. That is going on right now.

And the President has the audacity to look the American people in the eye saying: Oh, we are trying to do all we can. 

No, you are not. Why don't you rescind this order? This is part of the Biden administration's obsession from day one with stopping the production of American energy and politicizing it with a political appointee--who, by the way, doesn't know much about the industry either.

But there is more to this memo. It gets quite interesting because there is this kind of doublespeak in it. I am going to read from a little bit of it. She says that for matters that have been submitted in accordance with the shutdown--60-day shutdown--but for which you have not received approval from me, you are still not allowed to move forward. You have to come through me, the one political appointee who doesn't like the energy sector. 

But here is the interesting thing. She says: ``Please [also] provide early notification.'' So flag it if it is an item coming up to me that is part of the administration's priorities. I am quoting right now: ``For example, renewable energy projects [those will go to the front of the line] or other climate related milestones, `30 by 30' initiatives''--that is shutting down 30 percent of all Federal lands.

That is not a law by the way; just another radical thing they are doing--``or actions related to racial equity, environmental justice.''

OK. This is in her memo. She is saying: Hey, I get to approve everything--all applications, drill, any permits on any Federal land, anything--one person. But if it is part of a far-left radical agenda, by the way, that has nothing to do with energy production, give me a heads-up.

Then she says: 

As well as early notification on items that are of high local, state, or regional interest.

What does that mean, ``early notification''? Make sure she knows items that are of ``high local, state, or regional interest.'' What does that mean? I don't know. It is kind of code for something.

Let me give you one example of what I think it is code for. Remember, she is in charge of issuing all these permits, and there have been a flood of oil and gas production permits. Guess which State in America in the first year of the Biden administration has had close to half of all oil and gas drilling permits issued by the Department of Interior approved? Remember, she is approving them all. She doesn't really like oil and gas, but if she has to approve some, it might be related to items that are of ``high local, state, or regional interest.'' I wonder who that is.

Who is it? Is it Alaska? No, I don't think so. Trust me. They are delaying us as much as they can. They don't like us. Twenty-two Executive orders and Executive actions solely focused on Alaska by this administration, they really don't like us.

Is it Texas, North Dakota? The State that has got close to half of all oil and gas drilling permits that this Acting Assistant Secretary, who is in charge of granting--because, remember, she centralized everything--is New Mexico. New Mexico. Whoa. New Mexico? New Mexico. 

Do you think New Mexico would be a high State or regional interest if you are her and your boss is from New Mexico? Probably. How about if you have a Senator from New Mexico calling all the time? Probably.

All right. So I really wish the media would look into this, right? Because right now you have the President of the United States, Jen Psaki, and others, saying: Oh, we are trying to do everything we can here. You have got this memo that is still in effect by an Acting Assistant Secretary, saying: I am going to control every permit issued in America on Federal lands. It is right here. Read it. And you can't move, you regional directors in BLM, you know, in Fairbanks, AK, you State directors--no, no, no. I am in charge, and I am going to approve them. You can't move without me. But give me a heads-up. If it is regional interest, Deb Haaland might care about the New Mexico ones or climate change or racial equity or whatever else she listed.

So if this administration really wanted to do all it could to produce energy--which is what every American knows we need to do and what our allies know we need to do and what Putin hopes we don't do--I think one thing they could do is to get Acting Assistant Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis's boot off the neck of the American energy sector because, right now, she is in charge.

Every permit on Federal lands listed in her memo of March 21--I am sorry, March 19, 2021, she is in charge of: final resource management plans, records of decisions, coal leasing, mining operations, R.S. 2477, land sales, exchanges--what else do we have here--applications for permits to drill, oil and gas leases, applications for royalty relief. She is in charge of all of that right now.

In this administration, the President, Jen Psaki, and others have the audacity to look the American people in the eye and say: We are trying to do everything we can in our power to produce more. If you were, you would rescind this memo--rescind this memo.

So the next time the President or some of his staff or Secretary of Energy or Secretary of Interior try to spin the American people and tell them they are trying to help, I hope my friends in the media go, well, what about this memo? Come on, that is like basic Federal Government 101. If you are telling everybody, stop, halt, and everything in the country has to be approved by her, that is not the way it works normally. But because of their anti-energy agenda, she is making the calls--but make sure that you give her a heads-up, if it is related to some of the far-left agenda that she literally lays out in the memo.

I hope my friends in the media ask some questions. I hope they ask the question: Is it related to this memo that New Mexico is getting all the drilling permits? It would be a good question to ask, I think. Don't you think? I think so. Alaska's not getting a lot, but New Mexico is. I wonder why. Maybe that is related to making sure she gets, ``early notification of items that are of high local, State or regional interest.'' 

This is not a laughing matter. There is so much that we have to focus on in the world today, in America today, and one of the things this administration needs to do is they need a major course correction on their energy policy.

You can't let energy be dictated by the far left of the Democratic Party. You can't let national security of America be dictated by the ``woke'' elements of the Democratic Party. And if you really are serious, Mr. President of the United States, you need to call Deb Haaland and say: Rescind that memo. Let the officials, the professional staff of the Federal Agencies, which the President has charged to do their job that they have done with every other administration--rescind this memo and start helping our country produce American energy again.

I yield the floor.