Beto O’Rourke Would Ban Public Lands, Offshore Leasing “Day One” if Elected President
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke told Western Wire he would move to immediately ban oil and natural gas leasing on public lands and offshore if elected president as he marched with climate protesters in Denver on Friday.
Earlier this year, O’Rourke said he would seek to end public leasing, but today’s comments go even further as the former Texas congressman outlined a faster timeline with a “day one” pledge.
When asked if he planned to ban oil and gas production on public lands, O’Rourke responded, “Day one, no oil and gas leasing including fracking on public lands.”
“No offshore leases,” O’Rourke added. “Any existing lease would have to reflect the true cost of pollution and carbon.”
A president banning public leasing through executive order and without authority from Congress is likely to raise legal questions, but O’Rourke appeared unfazed by those obstacles.
“It’s a decision I believe that the executive branch can make unilaterally,” O’Rourke said. “For me it’s a pretty simple, clear line.”
He noted the bans for leasing public lands and for offshore production could be implemented through simple executive orders.
O’Rourke joins other leading Democrats running for president who have opposed natural gas development on public lands including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris.
But fellow presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) has taken the opposite approach of O’Rourke and others. During a climate town hall yesterday in Washington, D.C., Bennet said he sees natural gas as a key fuel to combating climate change and that as president, he would continue to support responsible development on public lands.