The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association joined 26 other industry trade groups on Thursday in signing a letter that urges President Joe Biden to visit United States energy sites ahead of a planned trip to Saudi Arabia in July.
In addition to LMOGA, the letter is signed by organizations from Alaska to Texas, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s biggest lobbying organization.
The letter wished Biden well on his voyage to Saudi Arabia, but it implored him to visit oil fields like the Gulf of Mexico, the Permian Basin or Kern County, California, before he makes the trek overseas.
It also suggested he visits U.S. refineries and the Colonial Pipeline, a 5,500-mile fuel artery that stretches from Texas to New Jersey, to see the American energy industry up close.
“Before you board Air Force One for the Middle East, we hope you will consider taking another look at made-in-America energy,” the letter said. “We would be honored to show you how our industry is involved in every step of the energy process, from fuel pumps to critical product delivery infrastructure to production zones across our vast nation.”
Biden is set to travel to the Middle East from July 13 to July 16, according to the White House. He will head to Saudi Arabia after stops in Israel and the West Bank.
Critics have blasted Biden for the Saudi Arabia visit. U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, the House Republican whip, has decried the trip as “lunacy.” U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, has proposed legislation that would prohibit spending federal funds on presidential travel to OPEC countries unless the federal government holds at least four lease sales per year.
A White House statement said Biden will discuss “ensuring global energy and food security,” among other diplomatic issues, in Saudi Arabia. It did not clarify whether Biden will ask the country to pump more oil.
The letter from the oil and gas groups said U.S. energy reserves “are the answer in the global quest for reliable energy supplies.”
“American-made energy solutions are beneath our feet, and we urge you to reconsider the immense potential of U.S. oil and natural gas resources — that are the envy of the world — to benefit American families, the U.S. economy and our national security,” the letter said to Biden.
API and other oil and gas advocates have been battling with Biden as his administration has tried to curb drilling to reduce the fossil fuel industry’s environmental footprint.
Biden has gone back and forth with Republican attorneys general on lease sales on public lands and waters, including the Gulf of Mexico, where the fate of a November lease sale is still in the hands of federal courts. The Department of the Interior in May canceled two planned Gulf of Mexico sales.
Last week, Biden sent a letter to U.S. oil producers urging them to pour their profits into expanding refining capacity, which he says is the greater issue affecting gas prices.
The producers fought back against Biden’s criticisms. A statement from ExxonMobil called for “regular and predictable” lease sales and a “streamlined” regulatory approval process. A letter from Chevron CEO Mike Wirth requested “clarity and consistency” in White House energy policy, particularly on leases and permits.
Executives from oil companies including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Marathon and Phillips 66 met with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Thursday to discuss the price crisis. The meeting with Granholm “should send a positive signal to the market that the U.S. is committed to long-term investment in a strong U.S. refining industry and aligning policies to reflect that commitment,” the groups said. “Our industry will continue to seek opportunities to work with policymakers to unlock American energy, fuel economic recovery and strengthen our national security.”
In a separate statement, the Energy Department said Granholm reminded the oil companies and refiners that their customers, workers and communities “are feeling the pain at the pump because of Putin’s price hike,” a reference to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s February invasion of Ukraine, which prompted a ban on Russian oil by the United States and many Western allies.
“At a time when Putin is using energy as a weapon, oil companies must deliver solutions to ensure secure, affordable supply,” the Energy Department said.
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