In the face of rising oil prices, House Republicans released a package of bills to lower costs and boost domestic energy production. The high prices at the pump have strained consumers and our lack of energy independence has raised security and ethical concerns.
No one denies the immediate need for oil, including President Biden. President Biden and partnering countries agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic oil reserves. This decision only provides a small amount of cheap oil to the market, but a long-term solution needs to be found. The Biden Administration has turned to authoritarian regimes like Venezuela and OPEC, rather than looking for ways to empower domestic producers.
The House Republican Natural Resources Committee is countering President Biden’s short-sighted energy policies through a suite of bills that reduce regulations and empower the private sector.
A key piece of the package is the American Energy Independence from Russia Act, which was introduced by Bruce Westermann (R-AR) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). This would require the administration to create an energy security plan within 30 days of the bill becoming law and increase U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG) exports to offset Russian imports in other countries. Importantly the bill would also approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which the President revoked on his first day in office.
One of the most important fuels that America has at its disposal is oil and gas. The administration has thus far adopted an “everything but” energy strategy that targets domestic fossil fuel production, especially on public lands. Rep. Yvette Herrell’s (R-NM) Energy Permitting Certainty Act would address this issue by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to process existing drilling permits “unless a United States Federal court has determined that the lease was not issued in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.” While environmental reviews are an important part of this process, an outdated permitting system poses a threat to our environmental and energy security.
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The package also includes Garret Graves’ (R-LA) Securing American Energy & Investing in Resiliency Act. This would require the Secretary of the Interior to complete all oil and gas lease sales in the “Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Final Program.” This area contributes to about 15% of all U.S. crude oil production. Oil and gas leasing brings in billions of dollars in revenue to fund projects like the Historic Preservation Fund and the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund. This revenue is collected through lease auctions, rent, sales, and royalties. Royalties are shared with coastal states who share waters with the Gulf of Mexico and the Outer Continental Shelf.
Conservative lawmakers also recognized the importance of investing in next-generation energy technologies. Included in the package is legislation that would bolster the U.S. supply of rare earth minerals by increasing domestic mining.
Congressman Stauber of Minnesota included his legislation called Accessing America’s Critical Minerals Act. If passed, the bill would require agencies to complete mineral permitting within 30 months and to publish an annual performance report. The bill is aimed at lowering the US dependence on minerals from hostile countries. The Biden Administration recently canceled two pre-existing leases in Minnesota. The metals from these mines were used in technologies such as lithium batteries, solar panels, and wind turbines. The cancellation of these leases not only hinders the production of these cleaner technologies, but has also created a greater reliance on China to provide these minerals.
Congressman Mike Waltz’s (R-FL) American Critical Minerals Independence Act is also included in the Republican energy package. This bill promotes research and exploration in the United States for critical minerals used in batteries and solar panels, to increase supply and lessen security risks associated with mineral dependence on foreign countries.
Increasing energy production in the United States makes good economic and environmental sense. The Republican energy package shows that conservatives in Congress are well-equipped to offer durable climate and energy solutions.
Clark Strawser is a contributor to C3 and Adjunct Professor with the Helm’s School of Government at Liberty University. Follow him on Twitter @ClarkStrawser.