Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in writing to Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young to express concern over the Biden administration’s decision to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from funding projects that facilitate fossil fuel transportation.

The Biden administration’s plan is particularly damaging for Louisiana because it could target anything that moves through waterways or ports, not just the oil and gas products that also travel via waterways.

The appendix to the Army Corps of Engineers FY 2022 budget states that one of the Corps’ key objectives is not to fund “work that directly subsidizes fossil fuels including work that lowers the cost of production, lowers the cost of consumption, or raises the revenues retained by producers of fossil fuels.”

“This policy goes far beyond establishing priorities through the budget process and is instead an attempt to unilaterally usurp the law making powers of the Legislative Branch. Congress has not given the Executive Branch the authority to categorically exclude an entire industry from eligibility for congressionally authorized federal projects. Instead, within the last decade, Congress repeatedly recognized the critical role of fossil fuels in our nation’s commerce by dedicating federal funds specifically to ports that transport a significant amount of petroleum products, natural gas, or coal,” the senators wrote.

“Fossil fuels and its related products are a commodity commonly transported as waterborne commerce on federal waterways. For example, petroleum and petroleum products comprised 42 percent of all commodities transported as waterborne commerce in 2019. It defies reason that Congress would permit categorically excluding a commodity that is so closely tied to the economic advancement of the United States, as well as its national security,” the senators continued.

“The fossil fuel industry is responsible for millions of American jobs, and the oil and gas industry alone supports nearly 8 percent or $1.7 trillion of the U.S. GDP and helps lower the U.S. trade deficit by billions of dollars. Not only do fossil fuels help provide heat and electricity in our homes and fuel to power our vehicles, but they are also used to make the products we rely on daily, including everything from smartphones and clothing to PPE and medicines. The decision to exclude fossil fuels from commercial navigation projects, especially if applied to other modes of transportation, could have significant ramifications for the United States economy, including a detrimental rise in the price of everyday consumer goods,” the senators continued.

The senators asked Young to:

  • Provide a complete list of every instance the FY 2022 budget includes language that prohibits funding or subsidies for fossil fuels.
  • Define “directly subsidize fossil fuels” and explain whether the language in the budget would ban funding for federal projects that are indirectly connected to fossil fuels.
  • Explain whether the Biden administration intends to ban funding for other modes of transportation of fossil fuels, including highway projects, air transportation projects and railway projects.
  • Clarify how prohibiting funding for projects that lower the cost of fossil fuel consumption will benefit Americans.
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