House Republican Bill Sacrifices Public Lands for Fossil Fuel Profits

Earthjustice blasts House passage of Strategic Production Response Act


Geoffrey Nolan, Earthjustice, (202) 740-7030

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 21, the Strategic Production Response Act. The first major energy bill of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would mandate that non-emergency drawdowns of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) would be accompanied by a plan to lease a percentage of public lands and waters for fossil fuel production. After the inclusion of an amendment by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), the bill would permit a leasing plan that could include as much of 15% of federal lands and waters.

“Fossil fuel companies are already swimming in record profits, but House Republicans are using one of their first legislative opportunities to auction off our public lands for more drilling,” said Martin Hayden, Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation. “Ramping down fossil fuel extraction and transitioning to clean energy are our best opportunity to protect ourselves from the worst impacts of climate change, insulate families from volatile energy prices, and ensure that we reach our climate goals. At a time when we’re seeing the impacts of climate change every day, this bill would lock in decades of fossil fuel drilling that we simply cannot afford.”

The federal government presides over approximately 640 million acres of onshore land along with 2.5 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf. If agencies had to follow through with the plan to lease the 15% of public lands required by this bill, they could be forced to lease 471 million acres. The final bill also included numerous problematic amendments, including one that would make the bill apply retroactively to non-emergency releases from the SPR since President Biden took office.

“House Republicans made their own bill worse with terrible amendments meant to give away even more of our public lands to big fossil fuel companies,” continued Hayden. “It sets an unfortunate tenor for the next couple of years that House Republicans are already doing the bidding of wealthy fossil fuel executives and advancing their sweetheart deals at the expense of our planet and health. We urge the Senate to reject this ridiculous bill and encourage all lawmakers to instead focus on policies that end our deadly addiction to fossil fuels and prioritize our transition to a clean energy future.”

Earthjustice joined 35 other environmental and good governance organizations on Tuesday in sending a letter to members of Congress urging them to reject the Strategic Production Response Act.

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