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‘Fossil fuel sanctuary state’ bill stalls in Louisiana House

April 28, 2021 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A bid to declare Louisiana a “fossil fuel sanctuary state” and bar enforcement of any federal law or regulation that could harm the industry stalled Wednesday in a House committee, amid concerns about litigation, lost revenue and other complications.

Rep. Danny McCormick, an Oil City Republican, didn’t seek a vote on his bill from the House natural resources committee as his proposal faced questions and resistance from lawmakers of both parties. McCormick said he hopes to bring it up again for debate, after working on changes.

It’s unclear that any language could alleviate the concerns, however.

McCormick, who said he’s been in the oil and gas industry for more than four decades, proposed the measure to push back on restrictions enacted by President Joe Biden to address climate change. Among other actions, Biden has suspended new oil and gas leases on federal land and water, including in the Gulf of Mexico.

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The bill would declare that federal laws, orders or regulations that levy a tax or fee on fossil fuels or forbid the use or sale of fossil fuels are “infringements on state sovereignty.” It would prohibit state agencies from enforcing any federal law or regulation that “negatively impacts fossil fuel energy in Louisiana.”

Committee members suggested the proposal, if passed, would immediately provoke a lawsuit for violating the U.S. Constitution. Several Republican lawmakers said they agree with McCormick’s goal of trying to protect the oil and gas industry, but worried it could jeopardize federal oil and gas revenue used for coastal protection projects and other federal aid that flows to the state.

The state Department of Natural Resources said the bill could damage environmental enforcement authority the federal government has granted to Louisiana that is tied to a requirement the state’s policies meet federal standards.

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The bill is filed as House Bill 617.