Biden Interior Secretary Won’t Say If She Prefers Oil From American Over Venezuela

Secretary Deb Haaland of the U.S. Department of the Interior repeatedly deflected when asked if she believed it was better for the U.S. to produce its own oil and gas or import it from foreign countries, at a Wednesday hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“Do you think it is better to get oil and gas from federal lands in this country, with our environmental standards, or is it better to get it from Venezuela, Russia, Middle East and other places with vastly inferior environmental standards?” Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota asked Haaland. “Where would you prefer that that oil and gas come from?”

“Senator, what I can say is that President Biden is … dedicated and committed to making sure that we have an energy independent nation,” Haaland replied.

“Well.. but… the response to my question: where would you prefer to get that oil and gas?” Hoeven pressed.

“Our … as I mentioned many times that oil production in this country is up on federal lands … we’re moving those permits through, we’re doing our jobs and … I appreciate the question,” Haaland responded.

Oil and gas firms have been a frequent target of President Joe Biden, which he criticized during his State of the Union for “outrageous” profits and a failure to increase production that would have met U.S. demand and kept gas prices down following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Oil companies were reluctant to invest in new drilling ventures in part because investors were worried that prices would not stay high enough to make the drills profitable in the long-term, with many still spooked by the steep plunge in oil demand and prices following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, The New York Times reported.

Although Biden’s proposed federal budget for the fiscal year 2024 would end all federal oil and gas subsidies, the president recently drew the ire of environmental groups by approving a massive oil drilling project in Alaska. In an apparent conciliatory bid, the Biden administration simultaneously announced a sweeping drilling ban on millions of acres of the Natural Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, land that was set aside for oil exploration.

California recently implemented a state law that limits the maximum profit margins of oil refiners making gasoline.

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