Tough talk about “Big Oil” is nothing new from liberal Democrats like Sen. Maggie Hassan. After all, she has called climate change an “existential threat” and has voted for both restrictions on carbon and tax hikes for oil and gas producers.
But a Democrat who has called climate change an “existential threat” talking tough about energy companies not producing enough oil and gas? That’s new.
“We’ve got to stand up to Big Oil and really tell them that they need to start increasing production,” Hassan said on WGIR radio Monday. “I’ve been standing up to Big Oil, now more than ever, pushing them to increase supply.”
Just three days earlier, Hassan was touting her endorsement by the environmentalist group, the Sierra Club.
“I’m proud to have the support of the Sierra Club,” Hassan said in a statement. “As climate change threatens communities across New Hampshire and the world, we must work together to protect our planet and future generations.”
On Thursday, the Sierra Club’s New Hampshire Chapter Political Chair Jim Allmendinger called Hassan “a strong leader safeguarding New Hampshire’s clean air and water, investing in clean energy and addressing climate injustice.” He also pointed out Hassan has been “a strong supporter of President Biden’s plan to invest in climate, jobs, and justice.”
President Joe Biden’s plan, according to media reports on Monday, is to encourage anti-democratic regimes in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela to increase their oil production rather than promote more drilling and development in the U.S.
Hassan would not say if she supports Biden’s outreach to those nations for more oil production. [Editor’s Note: Hassan has instructed the federal employees in her official Senate office not to respond to requests for comment from New Hampshire Journal.]
But as gasoline prices soared in recent weeks, Hassan has reversed her energy policy and embraced more fossil fuel production.
While purportedly “green” organizations like the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters have been silent on Hassan’s policy switch, her 2022 GOP challengers have not.
“Granite Staters desperately need relief, yet Maggie Hassan is doubling down on her brutal record of failed, short-term, socialist gimmicks,” Republican Kevin Smith said Monday. His campaign released a bullet list of Hassan’s energy policies, including her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and her support for indexing the gas tax to inflation last year.
“It’s time to get serious, not socialist. We need to reauthorize the Keystone pipeline, reopen our energy sector, and regain our energy independence. Maggie hasn’t – I will.”
State Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) called out Hassan over Biden’s outreach to dictators for more oil.
“Maggie Hassan needs to stand up to the Biden administration for once. Biden and his team are talking with dictators while ignoring American energy producers. We need American oil, not the blood oil from dictators across the globe,” Morse said in a statement.
“We would be better off supplying energy to our friends and cutting off the spigot from our enemies. Maggie Hassan and Joe Biden need to stop playing gimmicks and cozying up to dictators – it’s time to put America first.”
On Monday, Hassan also repeated her call for a federal gas tax “holiday.” And she echoed White House complaints that oil companies are manipulating prices with 9,000 issued-but-unused federal leases. Energy experts say that is a red herring designed to take attention away from Biden’s anti-fossil-fuel approach.
“The law already requires companies to either produce oil and/or gas on leases or return the leases to the government – the so-called “use it or lose it” provision – generally in the first ten years,” notes Kevin O’Scannlain with the American Petroleum Institute. “For federal onshore, the Mineral Leasing Act prevents any one company from locking up unproductive excessive federal acreage.”
The real debate isn’t how America’s oil companies are using their leases, but how America’s climate-change activists explain endorsing candidates who want to see these oil companies use more?