Senate Republicans said they’re being rebuffed in their request to meet with Joe Biden over climate policies they say threaten “thousands of good-paying jobs.”
Senators, led by Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, had sought the meeting after Biden canceled a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and ordered a pause in the sale of new oil and gas leases on federal land. He also ordered agencies to review dozens of Trump administration regulations and promised “ambitious” new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.
On Friday, Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Steve Daines of Montana said on Twitter the White House had refused the request.
“Considering the effects their radical war on fossil fuels will have on nearly half the country, it is clear Oklahoma jobs are not the priority they should be,” Inhofe tweeted.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday no meeting was planned, though she didn’t explicitly rule one out. Biden is committed to “working and engaging with Democrats and Republicans to address the crises we’re facing, including climate,” Psaki said.
A spokesman for Sullivan, who led the meeting request, said the senator had not received a direct response from the White House.
The senators, many from oil-rich states, said Biden’s early climate and energy decisions run counter to his Inauguration Day promise of unity and his “stated goal of creating good-paying jobs,” particularly for workers in the energy industry.
“You’ve threatened middle-class jobs in the midst of an economy challenged by the pandemic, with no hope in the near future for these workers and their families,” the senators said in a letter to Biden.
Biden’s climate policies have also drawn a skeptical eye from some elected Democrats, including the governors of New Mexico and Louisiana, where oil drilling is a prime source of revenue.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she would be “working with the federal administration to make sure New Mexico is protected and secure,” amid Biden’s executive actions.
And Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state was “concerned” about any moratorium affecting the Gulf of Mexico, during a call-in program on Wednesday.
Biden has cast the fight against climate change as an economic opportunity, with the promise to unleash jobs installing solar panels, building wind turbines and weatherizing homes, though the moves will have inevitable effects on oil workers and coal miners.
Republican senators balked at such claims in their meeting request, saying it’s little comfort to workers building pipelines and drilling wells today. “Industries which will create new ‘green jobs’ that can replace the ones lost are still years away from maturing, and provide no immediate hope for our workers,” they said.
Local officials have been imploring Democratic politicians to intervene with Biden too.
“We hope you will convey our sincere disdain for these orders and do everything within your power to protect the energy industry of New Mexico and the thousands of workers who are being negatively impacted,” Dale Janway, the mayor of Carlsbad, New Mexico, said in a letter Thursday to members of the state’s congressional delegation.
“National comments that thousands of oilfield workers can ‘just find other jobs’ have come across as unsympathetic, unrealistic and certainly unhelpful.”