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 GardnerGun control group alleges campaign finance violations in lawsuit against NRA Colorado Supreme Court signs off on new congressional map Colorado remap plan creates new competitive district 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 MerkleySenate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Lawmakers call on Olympic committee to press China on human rights abuses Senate Democrats call on Biden to push for COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers at WTO MORE (D-Ore.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Pence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin Senators huddle on path forward for SALT deduction in spending bill MORE (I-Vt.), have introduced a bill to end public fossil fuel production. 

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future 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 TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension 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.