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US Oil Industry Group Pledges to Fight Possible Biden Fracking Limits

November 23, 2020

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If U.S. President-elect Joe Biden tries to restrict development of oil and gas drilling on federal lands, the American Petroleum Institute (API) will use "every tool at its disposal" including legal action, chief executive Mike Sommers said in an interview with Reuters on Monday.

Biden has said he supports a ban on new gas and oil permits — including fracking — on federal lands.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling technology that has allowed the U.S. oil industry to vastly boost output in recent years, making the United States the world's largest producer of crude oil. Environmental groups oppose fracking, saying it pollutes groundwater and exacerbates climate change.

Sommers said the API looks forward to working with the incoming Biden administration on energy, but would "draw the line" if Biden implemented restrictions on lands that were "always meant for multi-use."

"This would be a far reaching proposal that would undermine American natural and energy security to the detriment of the American people," Sommers told Reuters.

He cited potential loss of jobs and gross domestic product in states that rely on revenues from oil and gas production.

"We would be very concerned about those kinds of proposals coming out of the Biden administration," he added.

The Biden transition team did not reply to a request for comment.

Sommers said the oil industry group wants to be involved in discussions on issues such as future federal regulation of methane emissions.

Biden has vowed to take actions including requiring "aggressive" methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations.

Sommers said Biden "should want the people who know this issue best, in the oil and gas industry, at the table to discuss the right way to do this."

Biden has also pledged to reverse course on climate from President Donald Trump, who pulled the United States out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate and dismantled Obama-era climate and environmental regulations.

Sommers said the API supports the fundamental tenets of the agreement and will work with the incoming administration as it transitions back into the agreement.

The API's alliance with the National Building Trades Union will be important under a Biden administration, Sommers said. Biden has publicly opposed construction of pipelines that employ union workers.

He also said he sees a possibility of alliance with labor unions and biofuels groups on policies supporting vehicles that use the internal combustion engine.

(Reporting by Laura Sanicola; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)

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