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US lawmaker opposes drilling permit work during shutdown

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The oil and gas industry should not be spared the pain of the partial government shutdown, according to the chairman of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (gri-HAWL-vah) on Tuesday sent a letter to Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt objecting to the department changing plans to allow employees to work on upcoming offshore lease sales, seismic permits and a five-year offshore oil and gas leasing plan in Alaska and elsewhere.

“One of the most striking features of the current government shutdown, brought about entirely by the President’s insistence on building an entirely unnecessary border wall, is the way the administration has bent over backwards to ensure that the pain of the shutdown falls only on ordinary Americans and the environment, and not on the oil and gas industry,” the Arizona Democrat wrote.

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-California, also signed the letter. McCollum chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee for the Interior Department.

Grijalva called on Bernhardt to reverse course, and if he refuses, to provide a briefing on the legal justification for what appeared to be a violation of the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits federal agencies from spending money in advance of an appropriation.

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