House GOP Pushes Bill to Unleash Energy03/30 06:09
House Republicans are set to approve a sprawling energy package that seeks
to undo virtually all of President Joe Biden's agenda to address climate change.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans are set to approve a sprawling energy
package that seeks to undo virtually all of President Joe Biden's agenda to
address climate change.
The massive GOP bill up for a vote Thursday would sharply increase domestic
production of oil, natural gas and coal, and ease permitting restrictions that
delay pipelines, refineries and other projects. It also would boost production
of critical minerals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt that are used in
products such as electric vehicles, computers and cellphones.
Republicans call the bill the "Lower Energy Costs Act" and have given it the
symbolic label H.R. 1 -- the top legislative priority of the new GOP majority,
which took control of the House in January. The measure, which combines dozens
of separate proposals, represents more than two years of work by Republicans
who have chafed at Biden's environmental agenda. They say Biden's efforts have
thwarted U.S. energy production and increased costs at the gas pump and grocery
"Families are struggling because of President Biden's war on American
energy,'' said House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., one of the bill's
main authors. "We have way too many energy resources here in America to be
relying on hostile nations and paying (high prices) at the pump.''
The GOP bill will "unleash those resources so we can produce energy in
America,'' Scalise said. "We don't have to be addicted to foreign countries
that don't like us.''
Democrats called the bill a giveaway to big oil companies.
"Republicans refuse to hold polluters accountable for the damage they cause
to our air, our water, our communities and our climate,'' said New Jersey Rep.
Frank Pallone, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"While Democrats delivered historic wins for the American people by passing
historic climate legislation, Republicans are actively working to undermine
that progress and do the bidding of their polluter friends,'' Pallone said.
Biden has threatened to veto the energy bill if it reaches his desk, and
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called it "dead on arrival" in
the Democratic-controlled Senate.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the GOP bill "restores American
energy leadership by repealing unnecessary taxes and overregulation on American
energy producers,'' and "makes it easier to build things in America'' by
placing a two-year time limit on environmental reviews that now take an average
of seven years.
"Every time we need a pipeline, a road or a dam, it gets held up five to
seven years and adds millions of dollars in costs for the project to comply
with Washington's permitting process,'' McCarthy said in speech on the House
floor. "It's too long, it's unaffordable, it's not based on science and it's
holding us back.''
He pointed to a project to modify and improve Lake Isabella Dam in his
central California district that has lasted 18 years and still is not completed.
"Permitting reform isn't for everyone,'' McCarthy added. "If you like paying
more at the pump, you don't want to make it faster for American workers to
build more pipelines. If you're China, you'd rather America sit back and let
others lead. And if you're a bureaucrat, maybe you really do enjoy reading the
600-page environmental impact studies.''
Most Americans want lower prices and more U.S. energy production, McCarthy
said -- results he said the bill will deliver.
Democrats called that misleading and said the GOP plan was a thinly
disguised effort to reward oil companies and other energy producers that have
contributed millions of dollars to GOP campaigns.
Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources
Committee, derided the bill as the "Polluters Over People Act'' and "a nearly
200-page love letter to polluting industries.''
Instead of reining in "Big Oil" companies that have reported record profits
while "hoarding thousands of unused leases'' on public lands and waters, the
GOP bill lowers royalty rates paid by energy producers and reinstates
noncompetitive leasing of public lands, Grijalva said.
The bill also gives mining companies "a veritable free-for-all on our public
lands" and "makes mockery of tribal consultation'' required under federal law,
Under the GOP plan, mining companies will "destroy sacred and special
places" throughout the West, "ruin the landscape and leave behind a toxic mess
that pollutes our water and hurts our health -- all without paying a cent to
the American people,'' Grijalva said.
Schumer called the measure "a giveaway to Big Oil pretending to be an energy
The House energy package "would gut important environmental safeguards on
fossil fuel projects,'' locking America "into expensive, erratic and dirty
energy sources while setting us back more than a decade on our transition to
clean energy,'' Schumer said.
Schumer said he supports streamlining the nation's cumbersome permitting
process for energy projects, especially those that will deliver "clean energy"
such as wind, solar and geothermal power. "But the Republican plan falls
woefully short on this front as well,'' he said, calling on Republicans to back
reforms that would help ease the transition to renewable energy and accelerate
construction of transmission lines to bolster the nation's aging power grid.
Schumer and other Democrats said the Republican bill would repeal a new $27
billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and other parts of the climate and health
care law passed by Democrats last year. The bill also would eliminate a new tax
on methane pollution.