Energy & Environment

GOP lawmakers ask Trump to assist oil and gas producers

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A group of more than 40 House Republicans wrote to President Trump urging him to give a boost to oil and gas companies ahead of Trump’s slated meeting with oil executives.

They specifically said in a Thursday letter that the president should lessen royalties for producers who drill on federal lands, bring Russia and Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table, and replace Obama-era methane regulations with “cost-effective guidelines.”

“We ask that you continue to prioritize America’s oil and natural gas producers and workforce,” the lawmakers wrote. 

“If this market does not stabilize soon, we risk rolling back the success of the U.S. energy industry over the past decade, which will have a disastrous effect on America’s economy and jeopardize our energy security,” they added. 

The move from lawmakers comes as prices have plunged amid decreased demand linked to the coronavirus and a Saudi-Russia production-level dispute.

Prices are down significantly from a high of $53 per barrel in February, however, they rebounded slightly when Trump suggested on Thursday there could be a deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia. 

While Republicans have pushed for assistance for the oil and gas industries, Democrats have opposed it, arguing that the coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t be used to worsen climate change. 

There has been particular Democratic opposition to the possibility of waiving or lowering royalties, with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) even introducing legislation aimed at preventing the administration from reducing royalty rates for coal, oil or gas recovery.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, has taken some actions to boost industry, including a Thursday announcement that it would rent space in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to oil producers. 

The president is expected to meet with executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum and Continental Resources on Friday. 

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Ed Markey gas prices Jeff Merkley oil prices Russia Saudi Arabia White House

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