AOC loses battle to slow GOP push to expand new oil, natural gas leases on federal land

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday failed to slow House Republicans’ push for new oil and gas leases on federal land after GOP lawmakers called for more studies on the public health impacts of energy extraction. The attempt failed.

The House Natural Resources Committee met Tuesday to adopt its work plan for the new Congress. The plan includes language that says the Biden administration has leased fewer federal acres for oil and gas development than “any presidential administration” since the end of World War II.

The committee plan states that “the committee will examine the lack of oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands in the western United States, including focusing on management actions that have delayed production on federal lands.” and has allowed discouragement.”

Before adopting the plan, Ocasio-Cortez, D.N.Y. offered an amendment that would have required the committee to collect “data on public health and other impacts of new drilling on federal lands.”

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., failed to convince Republicans that new drilling on federal land should be tied to a public health study. (Aurora Samperio/Noor Photo via Getty Images/File)

“There is a failure to recognize the disproportionate impact these changes will have on communities of color and other frontline communities,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “There should be no objection to collecting better data on the health effects of these policies,” he added.

But Republicans pushed back, saying his proposal ignores the health benefits that energy development has brought to people for generations.

“How can you ignore the millions of people around the Earth who have been given clean water, indoor plumbing, lights, electricity, improved their lives, literally extended their life spans? “They can be lifted out of poverty by having access to electricity supplied by coal, oil, gas or other fossil fuels.” Rep. said Matt Rosendale, R-Mont.

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“It can’t just be ignored – their lives are better, their lives are longer as a direct result,” he said. “So, to sit there and say we should try to phase out these fuels is just ridiculous, ridiculous.”

Rep. Thomas Tiffany, R-Wis. underscored the point by asking Ocasio-Cortez whether her amendment would require studying all health effects, good and bad, or just the bad effects.

Rep.  Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., was one of several Republicans who rejected Ocasio-Cortez's push for a health study.

Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., was one of several Republicans who rejected Ocasio-Cortez’s push for the health study. (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images)

“I’m not opposed to including any positive health effects,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But of course, there’s a huge range of information about potential health effects, inhalation effects, cancer exposure, etc.”

Tiffany responded that her response made it clear that she was only interested in the negative health effects of drilling.

“I will not be able to support this amendment because there was a ‘but’ in the answer,” he said. “It’s not even addressing the good things that have happened.”

Other Republicans similarly saw the amendment as an attempt to block new leasing on federal lands. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., derided the amendment as an attempt to force climate change ideology onto GOP efforts to ensure America controls its own destiny and abundant energy supplies. ensures its national security by ensuring

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“I’m not here to deny climate change, I don’t think anyone is,” Boibert said. “It happens four times every year, we’re very familiar with it.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., left, and Rep. Lauren Bobert, R-Colo., clash at a hearing on new public excavations on federal land.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., left, and Rep. Lauren Bobert, R-Colo., clash at a hearing on new public excavations on federal land. (Drew Engerer/Getty Images/File | Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images/File)

Ocasio-Cortez said her amendment is not a proposal to “stop drilling.” She said her amendment’s language is neutral and could allow for studies on both the positive and negative health effects of drilling, and she said it’s important for families to consider that factor.

“I’ve met with families who say they’ll be near an evacuation site, and at different times of the day, their lungs start to burn,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I personally represent an area of ​​the country that has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the world.”

“People deserve to know if they are being poisoned, people deserve to know if there is no health impact,” he added.

The committee chairman, Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., ended the debate by saying that if his committee accepts Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment, it will enter the jurisdiction of other committees.

“Gentledy almost had me with that edit,” Westerman said. “We all care about public health, we all care about safety. I think that’s our duty as members of Congress.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment failed to be adopted as part of the committee’s work plan in a party-line 21-15 vote.

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