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 Scott GardnerBennet reintroduces bill to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists GOP warns Graham letter to Pelosi on impeachment could 'backfire' The Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren 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 MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Democratic senators condemn Trump for calling on China to investigate Bidens MORE (D-Ore.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally On The Money: Supreme Court takes up challenge to CFPB | Warren's surge brings scrutiny to wealth tax | Senators eye curbs on Trump emergency powers Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money MORE (I-Vt.), have introduced a bill to end public fossil fuel production. 

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonState cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review Trump campaign to hold rallies in Mississippi, Kentucky Biden struggles to reverse fall 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 John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS 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.