Democrats Dangerously Moving Even More Left on Energy Policy

Democrats Dangerously Moving Even More Left on Energy Policy
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The 2020 Democratic candidates are racing to the left, and if you’re an energy worker or an American who cares about strong economic growth and energy independence, their rhetoric and policies should send a shiver down your spine.

This week, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders released proposals they say are needed to fight climate change.

In reality, they’d decimate energy jobs, the economy at large, and could even hurt environmental conservation efforts.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren struck first, declaring in a Medium post on Monday that if elected President, she would implement a “total moratorium” on new fossil fuel leases on public lands, including offshore drilling, on her first day in office.

This is both an affront to democracy and sound public policy.

Warren says she’d implement her moratorium via an executive order, without Congress’ input. It would represent an end-run around the democratic process on an issue that would affect hundreds of thousands of jobs.

But even worse than her unilateral approach is the policy itself.

Here’s how it works today: the federal government, which controls vast amounts of state and offshore territory, especially in the West and in Alaska, leases land to the energy industry for resource development.

These agreements are a win-win for taxpayers. Federal lands that are sitting idle are put to economic use, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, both directly for energy workers, and indirectly because of the economic development these energy jobs bring.

In fact, the system we have now both promotes economic growth and environmentalism. As the Western Energy Alliance explains, the actual oil and natural gas extraction takes up only 0.1% of public lands. We can use public land for both recreation, conservation and development. They don’t interfere with each other.

In fact, the opposite is true. Resource development promotes environmentalism. The very same energy companies that lease public lands contribute $900 million in royalties to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a fund that protects “national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges.”

Even President Barack Obama’s administration touted this “all of the above” energy strategy for public lands.

It seems Obama-era policy isn’t good enough for Elizabeth Warren. She’d throw people out of work while also cutting off needed resources for environmental conservation.

If you think this is bad public policy, Bernie Sanders’ proposal is much, much worse.

Sanders, not content to let Warren steal the eco spotlight, rolled out his environmental plan this week.

He endorses Warren’s proposal to ban fossil fuel leases on public lands, but then goes even further.

He doubles down on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” and takes it to a whole new level. He declares that we must also “ban fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure.” He says he will “end exports of coal, natural gas, and crude oil.”

Think about this for a second. American companies would be prohibited from selling energy on the world market. This would eliminate countless good-paying American jobs. Countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran would pick up the slack. They’d make billions while Americans suffer.

This is eco-socialism, and we cannot let it happen.

Thanks to President Donald Trump’s aggressive approach to energy development, America is finally on track to become energy independent and free ourselves from the burden of foreign oil. America’s energy industry is booming. Within the next five years, America is predicted to outpace Saudi Arabia in oil production and even exports. 

These are good things. These are major bipartisan policy wins that improve our economic security and our national security.

But now, far-left Democrats hungry for the media spotlight are introducing increasingly extreme environmental plans. They would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous.  

Daniel Turner is the Executive Director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Follow him on Twitter @DanielTurnerPTF

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