Even as he was criticized for making more than 1,500 square miles off limits to potential oil drilling, President Joe Biden said he wished he could have done more.

“I wanted to stop all drilling on the East Coast and the West Coast and in the Gulf, but I lost in court. But we’re still pushing. We’re still pushing really very hard,” Biden said in a Weather Channel interview that aired Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, Biden announced the creation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni National Monument on land north and south of Arizona’s Grand Canyon.

The 1,562-square-mile section of land is now off-limits for drilling and grazing, according to The Associated Press.

“Folks, preserving these lands is good not only for Arizona but for the planet. It’s good for the economy. It’s good for the soul of the nation,” the president said Tuesday.

Critics, however, said the words add up to nothing more than political gloss over the latest energy disaster.

Republican Rep. Eli Crane of Arizona said in a statement Tuesday the Biden administration had “made it apparent that national security, economic prosperity, and Tribal sovereignty are disposable to them. Biden is shamelessly politicizing the Grand Canyon to appease the radical left and distract from his dereliction of duty just a few hours south at the border.”

Crane noted that the region Biden declared off-limits had been a source of uranium.

“Uranium is critical to American energy and security, and this ridiculous political posturing only makes us more reliant on foreign nations such as China and Russia,” he said.

The congressman said Biden cared little for the economic impact of his grand gesture.

“Apart from sabotaging national security and energy independence, Biden Administration policies trap Americans in poverty and undercut the economy. Northern Arizona’s economy will lose billions because of this stifling land grab by the federal government,” he said.

“In addition to this million-acre land grab, this Administration is also cruelly blocking Navajo Nation citizens from natural gas and oil development in New Mexico. Tribal sovereignty only matters to them if it suits their radical agenda. This type of woke government overreach that tramples over the American people is the embodiment of the America Last agenda,” Crane said.

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Stephen Shadegg, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Arizona, said in a statement Tuesday that Americans will suffer while Biden claims victory.

“As the President is celebrating his inflationary spending agenda and making it harder to produce safe and carbon-free nuclear energy, Arizonans are paying the price. Inflation is an invisible tax on government spending—everything from groceries to school supplies and household goods is more expensive because of ‘Bidenomics,’” Shadegg said.

“And by further restricting the mining of critical minerals like uranium, the President is making it that much harder to produce the cheap, carbon-free energy that would directly benefit his ‘green energy’ agenda,” he said. “Arizonans can’t afford this backwards economic and energy policy.

“What the Copper State needs is less redistributive ‘Bidenomics’ and more of an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to domestic energy — which must include nuclear power.”

Republican Utah state Rep. Phil Lyman, whose district includes much of southern Utah, said Biden committed a power grab, according to The Salt Lake Daily Tribune.

“This is a total abuse of the Antiquities Act,” Lyman said. “The act was never meant to be a landscape-wide management tool, and that’s what [the federal government] is using it as.”

He said Congress “needs to wipe out this ridiculous abuse of power.”

Arizona Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli said Biden’s “thinly veiled effort to appease his radical environmental base as he campaigns for re-election will have dire consequences for all Arizonans,” according to the Arizona Daily Independent.

“We strongly condemn this dictator-style land grab that will greatly hurt Mohave County and further limit private and state land resources needed for our economic viability,” the Republican senator said.

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