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GOP senator: Anti-fossil fuel candidates ‘not fit’ for federal office

GOP senator: Anti-fossil fuel candidates ‘not fit’ for federal office

Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.) on Thursday told an oil group that candidates who oppose fossil fuel production on federal land are “not fit” to hold office. 

“We have leaders who are saying irresponsible things, like we will have no more production on public lands,” Gardner said at a Colorado Oil and Gas Association meeting.

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“It's irresponsible, and I think anybody who refuses to reject statements like that are not fit for statewide office in Colorado and are not fit for federal office in Washington, D.C.”

The statement comes as environmental groups and some liberal lawmakers rally around the “Keep It In The Ground” movement to quickly end fossil fuel production on federal lands.

Gardner's statement puts him at odds with several Senate colleagues: eight Democratic senators, led by Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyA proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Lobbying world MORE (D-Ore.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersNewsmax host: Jury decided to 'sacrifice' Chauvin to the mob Lawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' Senate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term MORE (I-Vt.), have introduced a bill to end public fossil fuel production. 

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE hasn’t expressly endorsed the movement, and the Obama administration has rejected it time and again. 

But Clinton told an activist in February that banning federal fossil fuel production is a “done deal.” Her campaign said she supports putting the U.S. on “a long-term path to a future where there is no extraction of fossil fuels on public lands,” and the Democratic Party platform endorses phasing down that production. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday put out a report warning the federal government could lose billions of dollars in annual royalties if public fossil fuel production were to cease. Fossil fuel groups and Republicans have already seized on the report as ammunition against the movement. 

Gardner, who has endorsed Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSt. Louis lawyer who pointed gun at Black Lives Matter protesters considering Senate run Chauvin found guilty as nation exhales US says Iran negotiations are 'positive' MORE for president, on Thursday noted that the next president will have a lot of power to regulate energy production on federal lands. He highlighted rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department designed to do just that. 

“I worry about the cost of those of those regulations and our ability to continue business in this country and provide the jobs and opportunities we need,” he said.