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GOP senators urge meeting with Biden over executive orders on energy

The 24 Republican senators expressed concern about jobs in their states after President Biden's revocation of permits and halting of leases.

A group of 24 Republican U.S. senators representing 19 states are asking to meet with President Joe Biden to voice concern over orders in the first week of his presidency they believe will hurt energy and resource jobs in their states. 

The senators specifically took aim at Biden's decision to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and the halting of leases and permits on federal property -- moves made as part of the president's efforts to tackle climate change.

Construction on the long disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline halted when Biden revoked its permit on his first day in office as part of his overall strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and battle climate change. The 1,700-mile pipeline was planned to carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta in Western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. Keystone XL President Richard Prior said it would cost more than 1,000 jobs.

The Biden administration announced the day after his inauguration a 60-day suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters, as officials moved quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment. The order did not ban new drilling outright. It includes an exception giving a small number of senior Interior officials authority to approve actions that otherwise would be suspended. The order also applies to coal leases and permits, and blocks the approval of new mining plans.

In the letter to Biden, the senators called the moves job killers.

"Your actions will have grave consequences for our constituents, and taking these actions on your very first week as president, with no input from those of us who represent these hard working Americans is counter to the desires of the American people who want practical, bipartisan solutions to our nation's challenges, and who want policies that support working families," the senators wrote. They cited Biden's repeated calls for unity.

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Biden has stated his approach would create “millions of good-paying, union jobs” building electric cars, installing solar panels and wind turbines, and performing specialized work to cap abandoned wells, restore mine-scarred land and turn old industrial sites "into the new hubs of economic growth.''

The president is aiming to cut oil and gas emissions and double energy production from offshore wind turbines. He's also directing agencies to focus investments on regions that face job losses as the U.S. begins to shift toward wind, solar and other resources. He seeks to transition the country to 100% renewable energy for electricity generation by 2035 and net-zero emissions in the overall economy by 2050.

The senators who signed the letter represent Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Credit: AP
In this Jan. 6, 2021, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks from the Senate floor to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Now that the House has impeached President Donald Trump for the second time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must figure out the best strategy for arguing the case before the Senate. Senate rules say the trial must start soon after the chamber receives the article of impeachment, which cites “incitement of insurrection” after an angry mob of Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol last week. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)