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Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum

Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum
© Greg Nash

Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee are raising objections to the Interior Department’s list of participants for a forum on federal oil and gas leases. 

In a letter sent Monday, Republicans on the panel accused the department of deliberately excluding Republican governors of energy-producing states. The forum, set for March 25, will review the Biden administration’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands.

“We believe that you have intentionally limited the right for the public to participate, including state-wide elected officials, namely the governors of our states,” says the letter. 

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Participants in the virtual forum are set to include representatives of industry groups, unions and advocacy groups, according to the full list released by the department.

These include Alaska Federation of Natives executive vice president and general counsel Nicole Borromeo, North America's Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey, National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito, National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp and Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president for policy, economics and regulatory affairs at the American Petroleum Institute.

The moratorium was one of Biden’s first acts as president, and has drawn heavy criticism from Republicans in Western states in particular. An end date to the hold has not yet been announced, but newly seated Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandSenate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick Interior secretary approves new Cherokee constitution providing citizenship rights for freedmen Carter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority MORE said at her confirmation hearing that “it’s not going to be a permanent thing where we’re saying we’re restricting all these lands from something.”