During a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) faced a stern fact-check from Kathleen Sgamma, the president of the Western Energy Alliance. Sgamma categorically dismissed Ocasio-Cortez’s assertions regarding U.S. greenhouse gas production as “completely false.”
At the start of the hearing, the New York Democrat began by repeating a long-debunked claim that U.S. oil and natural gas production from federal lands accounts for 25% of the nation’s total emissions—an assertion that appeared implausible on its face. Ocasio-Cortez used this claim as a basis for her support of the economically significant ‘Green New Deal’ policies.
However, Sgamma swiftly set the record straight during the hearing. She highlighted that Ocasio-Cortez’s assertion had already been retracted by the Department of the Interior and was based on a fundamental, and possibly intentional, misinterpretation of greenhouse gas production statistics.
Sgamma straightforwardly clarified these points for Ocasio-Cortez, shedding light on the inaccuracies in her claims:
“I just want to start off by correcting something the ranking member said in her opening statement. She claimed that oil and gas production on federal lands is responsible for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Sgamma.
“That’s based on a misreading of a USGS study of greenhouse gas emissions. And if you actually look at the numbers, production on federal lands and waters accounts for 0.6% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, not ‘nearly a quarter.’”
To provide context, both women referred to a study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, which indicated that oil and gas production in the United States contributes to approximately 23.7% of carbon dioxide emissions over a ten-year period.
However, it’s crucial to note that the majority of this production occurs on non-federal lands, rendering the actual impact on federally owned lands relatively negligible, accounting for approximately 0.6% of emissions.
The exchange between the two was shared by the Western Energy Alliance on social media, where they highlighted the correction made by Alliance President Kathleen Sgamma to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) regarding climate-related misinformation. Sgamma disputed AOC’s assertion that oil and gas production on federal lands is responsible for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, characterizing it as entirely false.
Sgamma further emphasized that even the Department of the Interior ceased using this figure after she pointed out the data from the USGS report. She also stressed the need for legislative investigation into the Department of the Interior, particularly under the leadership of Secretary Deb Haaland, who is known for her strong environmental stance. Sgamma highlighted the department’s perceived obstruction of domestic energy exploration opportunities and the resulting reliance on OPEC, which places Americans at the mercy of foreign oil sources.
“I urge you to submit formal requests for information on the coordination between the Department of the Interior, including its various offices and bureaus, and environmental and activist groups,” she told the committee.“I believe those requests would uncover a trove of information of inappropriate collusion outside the public eye and outside formal Administrative Procedure Act processes. The information would be very helpful as states and groups like Western Energy Alliance seek to overturn many of these regulations in court, a Herculean task given the sheer volume of them.”
"She claimed that oil and gas production on federal lands is responsible for about a 1/4 of greenhouse gas emissions. That's a complete falsehood.
"That's based on a… pic.twitter.com/FgqkinHjWO
— Western Energy Alliance (@WesternEnergy1) September 19, 2023