Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, has urged the federal government to stop "mining, drilling and other extractive activities .. until employees are no longer locked out."
Despite the federal government shutdown, "oil and natural gas drilling and other extraction activities continue on our federal public lands," wrote Grijalva, the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, in a recent letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
"The lack of oversight of these potentially hazardous activities greatly concerns me, especially because of the scarcity of manpower to respond to emergencies, pollution issues or other rapid response needs," he said.
During the first week of the federal government shutdown, the Interior Department reported that it continued permitting for offshore drilling, albeit at a slower pace, but halted onshore permitting (see Daily GPI, Oct. 2). There was no attempt to close down production activities already in progress.
"I urgently request the immediate cessation of mining, drilling and other extractive activities on our federal public lands until we end the shutdown and cease the lockout of federal employees and visitors," Grijalva said.\
As Washington, DC, entered day 14 of the government shutdown Monday, Senate leaders were optimistic that they were near a deal on funding the government, raising the debt ceiling and ending the shutdown. Financial markets were not so sure; both the Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 were up slightly Monday, but by less than half a percent.