Fact Check: Will Biden’s Ban On New Federal Leases For Oil And Gas Drilling Be A Texas Job Killer?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Brandon Mulder, PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman; radio story produced by Alexandra HartFebruary 3, 2021 2:21 pm,

From PolitiFact Texas:

Texas congressman overstates job losses tied to ban on new drilling leases

President Joe Biden made good on his promise to take action on curbing U.S. emissions when he issued an executive order halting new oil and gas leases on federal lands and water.

The order, signed Wednesday, directs the Department of the Interior to pause issuing leases to oil and gas companies pending a review of the climate impacts of the department’s leasing and permitting practices. About 22% of U.S. oil production is reliant on federal lands and waters.

Anticipating Biden’s move, U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, expressed dismay at how a moratorium on leasing would impact jobs in Texas’ oil and gas sector.

“Killing more Texas jobs,” Brady said in a Jan. 22 tweet. “After killing #KeystoneXL pipeline, #Biden suspends new oil/gas leasing on fed lands/water. If permanent, 120,000 TX jobs lost. 120,000 MORE jobless. Pssst… aren’t you supposed to CREATE jobs?”

Biden’s move will have a disproportionate effect on states with large swaths of federal lands used for oil and gas activity. New Mexico, for instance, has 24 million acres of federal land, or about 32% of the state’s total land mass; Wyoming has 29 million federally owned acres, or about 47% of the state.

Texas, on the other hand, has very little federally-owned land — 3 million acres, or 2% of the state. Nearly half of that is managed by the U.S. National Park Service. As of 2019, about 185,000 acres were under lease for oil and gas production in Texas.

Although most of Texas’ oil and gas industry is based onshore, a sliver of the industry is actively drilling in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. As of Jan. 22, there were 16 offshore rigs in the Gulf compared with 175 on Texas land, according to the Baker Hughes rig count. (In February last year, before the coronavirus pandemic dealt major blows to the global oil industry, about 20 rigs were deployed in the Gulf compared to around 400 onshore in Texas.)

With such a small fraction of the state’s industry likely impacted by Biden’s directive, is Brady correct when he says that 120,000 Texas jobs are at stake? …

Read the full story and see how Brady’s claim rated at PolitiFact Texas. And listen to PolitiFact’s Brandon Mulder’s interview with Texas Standard in the audio player above.

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