In this Nov. 1, 2022, file photo, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, speaks at a news conference at the State House in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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I was very disappointed to learn that U.S. Rep. Jared Golden was the sole Democrat to vote with the House Republicans on the oil stockpile bill. This bill would require the government to offset any non-emergency withdrawals from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with new drilling on public lands and oceans.

Golden gave the following statement as a rationale for his vote: “It is in the best interest of hard-working Americans, who are facing rising prices at the pump, to require a comprehensive plan from any administration in power to replace our stockpile as they dip into it.” However, the facts are that there are thousands of unused leases by oil companies, and the Biden administration said last month that it will start to replenish the reserve now that oil prices have gone down.

But what concerns me the most is the destructive environmental consequences of this bill, as fossil fuels extracted from public lands account for about 20 percent of energy-related U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making them a prime target for emissions reductions intended to slow global warming. I realize that there is no chance that this bill will become law, as it is very unlikely that this bill will even be brought up in the Senate, and of course President Joe Biden would never sign such a bill. But I am very disappointed that my Democratic congressman voted for such a bill, ignoring the destructive consequences to the environment.

Elliot Benjamin