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Republicans Launch Probe Into Biden Admin Over Leaked Memo

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Republican leaders of two key House committees have launched a probe into the Biden administration’s handling of fossil fuel leasing practices after a leaked “energy security” memo.

House Oversight Chairman James Comer of Kentucky and Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman of Arkansas notified senior Department of the Interior (DOI) official Laura Daniel-Davis of a probe in a letter. The correspondence criticized the DOI’s oil and gas leasing delays and Daniel-Davis’ recent memo prioritizing climate considerations over energy security.

The letter was also led by Chairman Pat Fallon, R-Texas, of the Oversight Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs, and Chairman Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Seventeen more House Republicans joined in signing the letter.

“The Biden Administration has obstructed America’s energy producers in an effort to force a radical Green New Deal agenda on the American people,” Comer told Fox News in a statement. “The Democrats’ ongoing war against America’s oil and gas industry has only driven energy prices higher and families across the country are paying the price.”

“Instead of pushing the Administration’s climate agenda, the Department of the Interior should be prioritizing economic development and American energy security,” Comer noted further, according to the network’s report. “Congress must ensure DOI is fulfilling their responsibility to advance policies that unleash American energy production and strengthen an industry that provides good-paying job opportunities.”

Former Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Amanda Lefton wrote a memo in late November recommending that the Department of Interior charge energy companies a royalty rate of 18.75%, the highest allowable rate under the law, for a large oil and gas lease sale in Alaska.

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However, she acknowledged in the memo that charging a lower rate would likely “offer greater energy security,” but would not correctly account for climate change.

Soon after the confidential memo was sent, Daniel-Davis publicly approved Lefton’s suggestion without referring to its impact on energy security.

In late December, the Department of the Interior conducted a lease sale for almost a million acres, which attracted a single bid valued at $63,983 for a 2,304-acre parcel.

“The memo and your actions in this matter illustrate the pressing need for oversight of DOI’s permitting review processes and the Biden Administration’s prioritization of its climate agenda above states’ revenue streams, economic development, and the energy security of all Americans,” the Republicans wrote in their letter to Daniel-Davis.

“The internal deliberations at BOEM to brazenly elevate President Biden’s radical eco-agenda ahead of common-sense policies call for greater congressional oversight of DOI and BOEM,” the GOP lawmakers added.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, ultimately rejected Daniel-Davis’ nomination for DOI assistant secretary for land and minerals management. She still holds the position of principal deputy secretary for land and minerals management at the agency.

“The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the U.S. Department of the Interior continues to fail in their basic responsibilities and instead are actively elevating President Biden’s radical eco-agenda above the best interests of the American people,” Westerman told Fox News.

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“These backroom dealings contribute to Biden’s ongoing energy crisis, threaten America’s national security, discourage future investment, and cause lasting damage to the economy,” he added. “Their work to actively advance politics over America’s energy needs are clear evidence of the dire need for congressional oversight.”

President Biden is also dealing with another scandal.

A federal judge wants to get to the bottom of what kind of interactions the federal government has had with big tech companies and has ordered that it show its communications.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana Judge Terry Doughty rejected the Biden administration’s motion to dismiss a landmark case alleging collusion between the federal government and Big Tech to censor certain users related to COVID-19.

In Missouri v. Biden, the states of Louisiana and Missouri filed a lawsuit alleging that social media companies — such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn — censored certain viewpoints and users on its platforms at the direction of members of President Joe Biden’s administration as well as leaders at federal government agencies.

“The Court finds that the Complaint alleges significant encouragement and coercion that converts the otherwise private conduct of censorship on social media platforms into state action, and is unpersuaded by Defendants’ arguments to the contrary,” Doughty wrote in his ruling.

Doughty said he was “unpersuaded” by some of the government’s arguments in court, particularly their attempts to downplay coercive threats as “isolated episodes in which federal officials engaged in rhetoric about misinformation on social media platforms.”

“Further, while the Government may certainly select the messages it wishes to convey, this freedom is limited by the more fundamental principle that a government entity may not employ threats to limit the free speech of private citizens,” Doughty wrote.

However, Judge Doughty disagreed and found that the states had “plausibly alleged state action under the theories of joint participation, entwinement, and the combining of factors such as subsidization, authorization, and encouragement.”

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