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Red States Fight Back Against Biden’s Stealth Attacks on Oil, Gas Industry

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  • A group of 21 Republican attorneys general argued Friday that the Biden administration’s move to restrict oil and gas project permitting is the latest attack on the industry.
  • “Apparently President Biden doesn’t think the price of gas is high enough,” said Republican Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who spearheaded the effort. “This is just going to keep exacerbating energy production and gas prices in America. This is nothing but more and more red tape.”
  • “This so-called review won’t address the real concerns facing our citizens—prominently, historically high energy prices,” the Republican states’ letter stated. “It will instead inject unnecessary, duplicative, and inequitable red tape into an already bureaucratically laden process.”

A coalition of 21 Republican-led states implored the Biden administration not to axe a key federal permit for oil and gas projects in a filing published Friday.

The states argued that a recently-announced review of the permit is unnecessary and increases fossil fuel industry uncertainty, according to the document obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. The letter was filed in response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) announcement on March 28 that it would conduct a formal review of Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12), which isn’t set to expire until 2026, to assess its potential environmental justice and climate change impacts.

“Apparently President Biden doesn’t think the price of gas is high enough,” Republican Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who spearheaded the effort, told TheDCNF in an interview. “This is just going to keep exacerbating energy production and gas prices in America. This is nothing but more and more red tape.”

The NWP 12 permit, authorized under the Clean Water Act, allows oil and gas developers to bypass a lengthy government environmental review if their project has minimal climate or waterway impacts. The USACE’s March announcement stated that the administration was interested in implementing “potential off-ramps” that would force more fossil fuel projects to require a full review instead of using NWP 12.

The agency said it had opted for a formal review of the permit in accordance with a climate-focused executive order President Joe Biden signed on his first day in office. The executive order directed the Department of Defense to review the Trump administration’s last-minute renewal of NWP 12 on Jan. 13, 2021, which is also the subject of an ongoing lawsuit filed by an environmental group in which Montana, fossil fuel industry groups and business groups have intervened on behalf of the defendants.

“This so-called review won’t address the real concerns facing our citizens—prominently, historically high energy prices,” the Republican states’ letter stated. “It will instead inject unnecessary, duplicative, and inequitable red tape into an already bureaucratically laden process.”

“Far from alleviating our current crisis, the Corps appears poised to take measures that will undermine NWP 12’s purpose and further jeopardize the Nation’s energy security and prosperity,” it continued. “Rather than re-review NWP 12 for the second time in two years, the Corps should instead return to issuing individual and general permits in accordance with its statutory duty.”

The average price of gasoline in the U.S. hit $4.59 per gallon Friday, slightly less than the all-time record set Thursday, while natural gas prices remained near multi-year highs, according to market data. Fossil fuel industry groups and Republicans have accused the Biden administration of unleashing an assault on new oil and gas development amid the global energy crisis.

“This administration is more interested in pandering to their left-coast elites than they are at actually looking at how to solve the energy problem we’ve got right now,” Knudsen added. “They’re going to weaponize the Clean Water Act, they’re going to weaponize the Endangered Species Act, they’re gonna weaponize whatever piece of federal legislation they can to further this agenda.”

“Why on God’s green earth would you, as an energy company or a pipeline company, want to risk your stakeholders’ capital and put millions upon millions of dollars on the line to put a project in place when you’re very likely going to get jerked around and have permits revoked or have bureaucracy thrown in front of you at every turn by this administration?” he told TheDCNF.

Knudsen also noted that the USACE had already reviewed the Trump administration’s renewal of NWP 12. Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming joined his effort Friday.

In addition, the American Petroleum Institute led a coalition of 12 industry groups similarly opposing NWP 12 modifications on Friday. The groups said the review would increase uncertainty at a critical time for the domestic energy industry.

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