Rand Paul: Don’t ‘punish’ Exxon or you’ll hit workers

But oil-and-gas companies have battled the plan, which has sputtered in Congress, arguing it would curb domestic energy development.

Paul’s comments echo claims by the American Petroleum Institute, a powerful oil industry lobbying group, which has highlighted pension fund investments in oil-and-gas producers and other retirement account holdings in the companies.

Paul also took aim at the Obama administration’s lack of a permit — thus far — for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

“When you block the Keystone Pipeline, you punish the welder who works on the pipeline,” he said in his speech in Tampa.