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Lawmakers stump for GOP energy bill ahead of House vote

The sweeping legislation designed as a check on the White House’s energy agenda aims to expand U.S. coal, oil and natural gas production.

WASHINGTON (CN) — House Republicans blasted the Biden administration Tuesday morning as they gear up to debate and vote on a package of legislation crafted to undercut the White House’s energy policy.

The nearly 200-page bill, dubbed by the GOP as the Lower Energy Costs Act, combines the legislative priorities of several energy-focused committees in the Republican-controlled House, including the natural resources, agriculture, commerce and transportation panels.

If made law, the measure would bolster domestic oil and natural gas production. Federal energy regulators meanwhile would be authorized to grant permits for cross-border transmission sites and other infrastructure, and the bill would cut down on required environmental reviews for mining and drilling operations so that the process of securing permits for such projects is expedited.

The Republican proposal would also do away with a methane emissions tax made law by the August Inflation Reduction Act, a provision sure to be a bitter pill for House Democrats.

President Biden has said that he would veto the bill if it made its way to his desk.

GOP lawmakers have positioned their legislation as an effort to secure domestic energy production and as a foil to what they call missteps in the White House’s energy agenda.

“The Lower Energy Costs Act is coming to the floor this week, and is a major pillar in House Republicans’ commitment to America,” New York Representative Elise Stefanik said during a press conference Tuesday morning. “It increases domestic energy production, decreases prices, restores American energy dominance and ends Joe Biden’s war on American energy.”

Wyoming Republican Harriet Hageman opined that domestic supplies of coal, oil, natural gas and uranium are critical to accessible and affordable energy in the U.S. “The key questions that we must address,” Hageman said, “is who is going to be producing our energy? Our fellow Americans using our very own resources here, or foreign and often hostile countries who do not have our best interests at heart?”

Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, pushed back on criticism that some of the proposed bill’s permitting reforms, particularly those that slash environmental review processes, pose a risk to existing environmental law.

The lawmaker pointed to some states’ permitting restrictions under the Clean Water Act, arguing that they had overstepped their authority. “What they’re doing is denying projects based on frivolous things like noise or inconvenience, which has nothing to do with water quality standards,” Graves said. “What we’re doing is simply clarifying that if a state denies a project, it has to be based on those water quality standards within the Clean Water Act.”

Meanwhile, bill sponsor and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise rejected the notion that there had been intraparty squabbling over his measure.

“You’re not seeing resistance,” Scalise told reporters. “What you’re seeing is, as with any good package of legislation, members are bringing their ideas forward.”

The Louisiana Republican said that the 150 or so amendments offered by his GOP colleagues were evidence of that exchange of ideas. “We’ve been working with members to address different issues that they have in their states,” he explained.

Scalise joined the other lawmakers in attendance in blasting President Biden’s energy policy. “The inflation-driven failures that President Biden has imposed are hurting lower- and middle-income families the hardest, and you especially see it with energy costs,” he contended.

Even if the Republicans’ energy policy retort makes it through the House, which the GOP narrowly controls, the measure is likely dead on arrival in the Senate, which remained in Democratic hands following November’s midterm elections.

In a statement Monday, the White House defended its own efforts to reduce energy costs and argued that, under President Biden’s watch, U.S. oil and gas production is projected to reach record highs this year.

The GOP legislation, the administration said, serves as a “thinly veiled license to pollute.”

“Instead of protecting American consumers,” the statement contends, “it would pad oil and gas company profits — already at record levels — and undercut our public health and environment.”

Categories:Energy, Government, Law, National

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