Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), lost a big battle in the House Natural Resources Committee. She had demanded that a House push for new oil and natural gas leases on federal land be slowed down by an amendment she proposed that would require yet more studies on how energy extraction activities impact the public health. She lost the battle in a party line, 21 to 15 vote.
Rep. AOC’s push came as a result of the House Natural Resources Committee’s attempting to fight the Biden Administration’s energy extraction from federal land policy, one which it claims has led to the administration leasing the fewest acres of federal land for energy extraction of any presidential administration since the end of the Second World War.
In the new plan, the committee said “The Committee will examine the lack of oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands in the western United States, including focusing on administrative actions that have created permitting delays and disincentivized production on federal lands.”
Though encouraging energy extraction seems reasonable to many given the high cost of fuel under Biden, Rep. AOC was there to try to intervene, pushing her public health amendment. That amendment would have required the House Natural Resources Committee to first collect and examine “public health data and other impacts of new drilling on federal lands.”
Pushing the amendment, Rep. AOC predictably tried to argue that energy extraction is racist, saying “There is a failure to acknowledge the disproportionate impact that these changes have on communities of color and other frontline communities.”
At another point in the argument, she made much the same thing, only this time she claimed those earlier reference communities of color were being poisoned, saying “I have visited with families who say that they will be near an extraction site, and at different times of the day, their lungs start burning. I personally represent an area of the country that has some of the highest childhood asthma rates in the world. People deserve to know if they’re being poisoned, people deserve to know if there is no health impact.”
Despite her argument that should be “no objection to gathering better data on the health impact of these policies,” there was opposition from Republicans, who weren’t buying her argument. Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Republican from Montana, for example, said:
“How can you ignore the millions of people around the Earth that have had clean water, indoor plumbing, lights, electricity provided to them, making their lives better, extending, literally extending, their life span, lifting them out of poverty by having access to electricity that’s been provided by coal, oil, gas or other fossil fuels?”
Continuing, Rep. Rosendale added “It simply can’t be ignored – their lives are better, their lives are longer as a direct result of that. So, to sit there and to say that we should be trying to eliminate these fuels is absolutely absurd, ridiculous.”
Joining Rep. Rosendale was Rep Thomas Tiffany, a Republican from Wisconsin. Pushing back on AOC’s amendment demand, he asked if the studies AOC requests would study all aspects, including the good ones, of increasing energy production, or if it would stick to framing energy extraction as being entirely bad.
Predictably, she wanted to say that it was all bad, saying “I do not dispute the inclusion of any positive health impacts. But of course, there is a large degree of concerning information about potential health impacts, breathing impacts, cancer exposure, etc.” Tiffany then said that he would not support the amendment because of that answer.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) joined in the AOC bashing, mocking the leftist conception of climate change by saying “I’m not here to deny climate change, I don’t think anyone here is. It happens four times every year, we’re very, very much aware of that.”
By: Will Tanner. Follow me on Twitter @Will_Tanner_1
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