Dem rep tries to block oil and gas exploration during partial shutdown

A Democratic member of Congress is using the government shutdown to pressure the Department of the Interior to prohibit oil and gas exploration on federal land.

Energy companies should not be able to use federal lands if those lands are closed to hikers and campers, according to Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Grijalva started an online petition to demand that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "stop mining [on] public lands while visitors are locked out."

"Fossil fuel and logging companies shouldn't have special access to our federal lands while rangers, hikers and the rest of us are locked out," the petition states.

Grijalva is the ranking Democratic member of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. That panel oversees 600 million acres of federal land.

He sent a letter to Jewell and Vilsack last week urging them to halt fossil fuel extraction on federal land "until visitors can return."

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