The Trump administration is showing blatant favoritism to the energy industry.
That’s the complaint coming from several critics of the current administration who feel that state and federal outlets of the Department of the Interior should cease any and all oil and gas-related business while the government is shut down. It’s certainly tempting to believe that the president is twisting the government to his own capitalism-loving ends, but there’s nothing wrong (ethically or legally) with the Interior Department’s handling of the government shutdown.
‘Utterly Immoral’ Behavior from the White House
In the words of California Democrat Alan Lowenthal, “At a time when the shutdown is imposing pain on Americans across all walks of life, it is utterly immoral that the Trump administration treats one group of friendly businesses — the fossil fuel industry — as more valuable and deserving than all others.”
Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva jumped on the anti-energy bandwagon, as well, writing an open letter to David Bernhardt, the acting director of the Interior Department, chastising Bernhardt for, “making sure it’s business as usual for oil and gas industry.”
Those volleys make for intriguing headlines, but they couldn’t be farther from the truth.
A Slimmed-Down BLM
The Department of the Interior — and the oil and gas industry, by extension — has felt the pinch of the longest government shutdown in US history. Throughout the nation, individual offices of the Bureau of Land Management are operating on a skeleton crew. Projects approved before the shutdown and projects that were all but complete before the shutdown are the sole focus of the remaining employees at the BLM.
New projects, by comparison, have been stopped in their tracks. Though some of the Interior Department offices remain open for business, to say that the government agency remains untouched by the government shutdown is ludicrous.
You Don’t Want the Government to Halt Oil and Gas Projects
In response to the assault on oil and gas, Western Energy Alliance president Kathleen Sgamma countered, “Just because the government is shut down doesn’t mean private-sector economic activity grinds to a halt.”
Sgamma argues that partisan arguments impacting the government should not derail a thriving economic sector on which millions of Americans rely. There’s also the billions in tax benefits the oil and gas industry delivers every year. That’s to say nothing of the growing number of nations that rely on United States energy development to keep the lights on.
In other words, to lock the door of the Interior Department would be to jeopardize not only the United States economy, but an energy revolution that’s changing the way the world works.
That’s not favoritism. It’s a safety net.