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 GardnerThe Memo: Concern over shutdown grows in Trump World Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal 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 MerkleyDem senator requests FBI investigate Nielsen for potential perjury Trump officials discussed ‘deterrent effect’ of prosecuting migrant parents: report Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest partial shutdown MORE (D-Ore.) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersIdentity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination 2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend Bill Maher defends Bernie Sanders campaign over sexual harassment allegations MORE (I-Vt.), have introduced a bill to end public fossil fuel production. 

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIdentity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination O'Rourke’s strategy: Show Americans the real Beto Conservatives pound BuzzFeed, media over Cohen report 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 TrumpDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ We have a long history of disrespecting Native Americans and denying their humanity 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.