Tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact are on the line in Alabama after President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Wednesday to end the leasing of federal lands and offshore waters for oil and natural gas production.
Speaking about that order, which included sweeping moves to end governmental support of American independence — and dominance — when it comes to leading power generation sources, Biden openly admitted his administration was targeting “the economies of coal, oil, and gas, and power plant communities.” The individuals in those communities, the president said, will need to find new jobs under his administration, as he fully intends on killing their current livelihoods.
An academic study conducted in 2016 showed the total economic impact of Alabama’s energy industry to be $13.22 billion annually, supporting 124,000 jobs.
A separate, recent study showed that the Yellowhammer State’s coal industry alone has a total annual output impact of $2.9 billion, a total earnings impact of $1.2 billion and a total economic impact of 15,000 full-time-equivalent jobs. Additionally, the study found that at Alabama’s current impressive rate of met coal production, the state’s met coal resources will last for another 309 years, “making it Alabama’s most lasting fossil fuel resource.” Data showed that the state holds approximately four billion tons of economically recoverable coal reserves.
Alabama Republicans are already standing firmly against Biden’s agenda, while championing Alabama jobs.
PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R-AL) was probably the first to sound the alarm on Biden’s “radical” energy agenda, blasting his move during the first hours of his presidency to kill the Keystone XL pipeline.
Members of the state’s congressional delegation have also voiced concerns in the past week, including after the latest executive action.
This includes Congressman Jerry Carl (AL-01), a Republican who represents Coastal Alabama. He released a statement commenting on Biden’s oil and gas leasing moratorium.
“With the stroke of a pen, President Biden’s latest action will destroy 24,000 Alabama jobs over the next four years,” warned Carl.
“Instead of working with the private sector to move forward toward more free-market innovations and clean-energy solutions, President Biden is declaring war on the oil and gas industry, destroying jobs and threatening America’s energy independence,” he added. “The President’s agenda is harmful to Alabama, and I will continue fighting his job-killing policies.”
Additionally, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has cosponsored the Protecting our Wealth of Energy Resources (POWER) Act of 2021, his office announced on Thursday.
The POWER Act would reportedly prohibit the president or his secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Energy departments from blocking energy or mineral leasing and permitting on federal lands and waters without congressional approval. A companion bill is being introduced in the House.
“The expansion of oil and gas production over the last decade — and accelerated under the Trump Administration — has created hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs, decreased energy costs for everyday consumers, and made the U.S. the preeminent energy nation in the world,” Tuberville said in a statement.
“President Biden’s executive decision to halt the progress made in America’s energy sector is not only political pandering to satisfy radical environmental activists, it has real-world consequences and could cost more than 20,000 hardworking Alabamians their jobs,” the freshman senator continued. “I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and fight for our citizens and America’s energy independence.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn