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Oil and gas leaders on edge as Democrats prepare historic green investment

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 10:36 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The climate fight continues to boil in Washington. Democrats are trying to put the finishing touches on a massive spending bill that, among many other things, would set targets for cleaner energy in the country. The effort has oil and gas industry leaders in distress.

“They’re still addicted to our product,” said Mike Moncla, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association.

Moncla says the entire world relies on fossil fuels like those coming from his home state, so provisions aimed at curbing the industry in the Democrats’ multi-trillion dollar Build Back Better plan don’t make sense to him.

“It’s going to take all kinds of energy for our world to continue to grow,” said Moncla.

While the specifics of the full scope of the climate change effort are still unknown, fossil fuel state lawmakers like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) want to pump the brakes on the historic investment, that may amount to half a trillion dollars.

It could include tax credits for clean electricity generation, funding for decarbonization efforts, fees on methane emissions associated with oil and gas, and much more. Cassidy believes the progressive crusade is misguided.

“If we don’t produce oil and gas with our environmental standards, with our workers, it’s going to be produced somewhere else with someone else’s lower environmental standards,” said Cassidy.

As Cassidy and his colleagues fight these proposals on Capitol Hill environmentalists do not want to lose the handle on this opportunity to bring transformational change - moving away from fossil fuels.

“The market’s already moving there. But if we can sort of stimulate that with government investments we can get there a lot quicker,” said Toby Short from the Environmental Defense Fund.

Short explains sectors of the economy are already evolving to cut emissions, like auto giants focusing on electric vehicles. Short argues this package would set the economy up for the future. His pitch to the traditional energy industries?

“Look - we’re not going to leave you behind but we’re going to transition from where we are today to where we’re going to be tomorrow, and you’re going to be apart of that,” said Short.

While most Democrats are embracing the President’s climate change proposals, Senator Manchin already succeeded in stripping the bill of a program that would rapidly shut down coal and gas-fired power plants.

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