As Americans Continue to Face Record High Energy Prices, Secretary Haaland Refuses to Commit To Increasing Domestic Energy Production

July 13, 2022

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today urged U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is responsible for granting oil and gas leases on federal land, to commit to increasing American energy production to reduce the burden on American families from record-high gas prices. Despite the obvious need to increase American production to address the energy crisis, Haaland refused to commit to taking action.

“If you look at gas prices at the pump, they’re at all-time record highs. American families are suffering tremendously right now. Secretary Haaland, you’re responsible for granting oil and gas leases on federal land … Yet on July 1, despite the fact that American families are facing record-high prices, your department announced that it might not issue any new offshore oil and gas leases for the next five years […] At what point will you commit—and I’m asking you to commit—to increase oil and gas production to address the pain that American families are feeling?” Hagerty asked.

Haaland evaded Hagerty’s question about whether the Department will encourage more production and instead stated that there are certain existing oil-and-gas leases that are not being used.

Hagerty followed up and asked her, “What we need to see to address the pain at the pump right now is an expansion of supply. You have many tools at your disposal, and as the Secretary of the Interior, I’m asking you: Will you commit to use every tool at your disposal to expand oil and gas production at this point given the pain that we’re suffering right now?”

Haaland again refused to commit and instead replied: “My job as Interior Secretary is to conserve and manage the natural resources and cultural heritage for every single American, and I said from day one that we would do that in a balanced approach. I feel very confident that our team is looking at every issue. And we’re working to make sure that this is a balanced approach.”

After the Secretary refused several more times to commit to helping American families by reducing gas prices and expanding production, Hagerty expressed his incredulity. 

“I am very disappointed that you’re not able to commit to the simple notion that you should use the authority that you have, Madam Secretary, to expand production now to alleviate the pain for the American public. We are suffering dramatically. Our economy is in tough shape—9.1 percent inflation right now and record high prices,” Hagerty concluded.

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