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President Biden handed his foes a closing campaign message with his weekend blasts at drilling and the coal industry, providing Republicans with an opening to turn up the heat on his energy policies.

Mr. Biden pledged “no more drilling” at a Sunday rally for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, drawing headlines just two days after he said he would shut down coal plants “all across America” and putting the White House on defense.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that the president’s drilling comment was a reference to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, while his apparent dig at the coal industry had been “twisted.” She said it was “loud and hard to hear” at the event.

“Look, the president was asked about new drilling in the Arctic,” said Ms. Jean-Pierre. “When the Trump administration opened the Arctic refuge for drilling, not a single major oil company actually bid on the sale. And so there is no shortage of opportunity for these countries to produce oil here in the United States.”

The Biden administration suspended leasing last year in the refuge, halting indefinitely the program approved by Congress in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Donald Trump.
Even so, his comment didn’t necessarily do any favors for Democrats running tight races in major energy-producing states, starting with Pennsylvania.
Not only is the state second only to Texas in natural-gas production, but it features a marquee Senate race in which Democrat John Fetterman has struggled on the energy issue. Mr. Fetterman insisted at a televised debate last month that he supports natural-gas fracking, despite his previous statement to the contrary.
“You now have Biden saying no more drilling,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday on Fox News. “Of course, in Western Pennsylvania — it’s the fourth-largest energy producer in the United States. So no more drilling would be massive unemployment for Western Pennsylvania.”
He added: “I can’t understand how they’re this clumsy,” referring to Democrats.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise tweeted Monday that “Biden just admitted his anti-American oil & gas agenda.”
“Not even his allies in the media & the phony fact-checkers will be able to cover for him on this now. It came straight out of his mouth,” Mr. Scalise said.

Mr. Biden blurted out his comment in response to apparent heckling on climate change at a Sunday campaign appearance for Ms. Hochul in Yonkers.

“No more drilling. There is no more drilling. I haven’t formed any new drilling,” he said.

Others criticized Mr. Biden for blaming high prices on oil-and-gas producers. Last week he accused them of making “windfall” profits off the Russian invasion of Ukraine and called on them “to invest in America by increasing production and refining capacity.”
Said Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado Republican: “Biden confirms Democrats’ anti-American energy policy. Days after accusing energy companies of not drilling enough to bring down prices, he vowed to a NY crowd ‘no more drilling…there is no more drilling.’ Don’t be mistaken, the Democrats’ energy policy is high energy prices!”

The pro-energy group Power the Future responded by turning up the pressure on New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who’s locked in a tight reelection bid against Republican Mark Ronchetti. New Mexico is the nation’s second-largest oil producer.
“Joe Biden is saying he wants to further dismantle the biggest industry funding the state and Michelle Lujan Grisham is pathetically silent,” said Power the Future spokesperson Larry Behrens. “Just last week, Biden and Lujan Grisham were all smiles for a photo-op but now when he promises to end our most critical industry, Michelle Lujan Grisham expects she’ll just get a pass.”

Ms. Jean-Pierre didn’t ease off the administration’s jabs at oil companies, saying they were “sitting on 9,000 unused but approved drilling permits” and that they should increase production.
“The president has been clear that rather than using their record profits to pad shareholders’ pockets, these companies need to ramp up production and also lower gas prices,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said.

Mr. Biden drew a rebuke Saturday over his coal commentary from a fellow Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who said such comments “are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden.”

The president’s remarks included “No one is building new coal plants because they can’t rely on it,” and “We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar.”

Mr. Biden implemented a moratorium on new oil-and-gas leasing on federal lands and waters shortly after taking office, but his administration has recently sought to defend its record on production as energy prices skyrocket.

Last week, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted that disinformation about the president’s energy agenda “is being used to scare/mislead Americans while industry cashes in.”
“The facts are clear: This Admin outpaced the previous Admin on crude oil production + oil/gas well approvals while also making historic investments in a clean energy transition,” she said in a Nov. 2 tweet.
Michael Shellenberger, author of “Apocalypse Never,” challenged her statement, saying that “those approvals were entirely for drilling on private and state land, which are outside of the administration’s control.”
The U.S. Oil and Gas Association tweeted: “Off script again – POTUS said ‘no more drilling’ out loud. Another unserious statement made by an increasingly unserious President.”

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