After nearly two years of high energy prices and record inflation, House Republicans have passed legislation to counteract energy inflation propelled by excessive spending by tax-and-spend progressives. The Lower Energy Costs Act (H.R. 1) passed the House in late March along party lines (4 Democrats voted yes) in an effort to advance domestic energy security in the wake of a war in Ukraine and to offer Americans financial relief at the gas pump and home energy bills.
President Biden has threatened to veto the 175-page bill, claiming the comprehensive measure “would take us backward.” Yet, HR 1 offers insight on how Republicans will supercharge American energy during a time of economic volatility. By making this the foundation of the GOP’s platform, House Republicans are prioritizing America’s energy production, emissions reductions and global leadership.
One of the bill’s underlying themes is correcting and modernizing America’s antiquated regulatory process that is hamstringing energy, transmission, and conservation projects. One of the biggest roadblocks is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which has heavily regulated and slowed down developers across multiple industries by requiring agencies to produce statements if a project has the potential to “significantly affect the environment.” These statements take years and cost millions of dollars to complete and delay clean energy projects that are ready to launch. Not only does this red tape artificially inflate costs and limit competition but it also hurts America’s position as a leader in the energy space.
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H.R. 1 would offer much-needed reform to these unnecessary bureaucratic roadblocks that have held back projects from being green-lit on time. The BUILDER Act, a bill lodged in the package that limits the page length of an impact statement to 150 pages and reduces the statute of limitations on lawsuits to 120 days, will address the $3.7 trillion in lost economic gains because of NEPA-related project delays. Included in the permitting provisions of the bill is also the Permitting for Mining Needs Act, which would modernize regulations to bolster America’s mining and reduce critical mineral dependence on China. The legislation provides reassurance for the mining industry with a time limit for reviews and the qualification of mining projects to be included in the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council Dashboard.
H.R. 1 would also provide regulatory certainty to the private sector by making previously approved projects impervious to the political whims of different presidential administrations. One such project is the Keystone XL pipeline which had received the necessary permits to begin construction all for the Biden administration to kill 60,000 jobs and nearly $10 billion in economic output in his first day in office. H.R. 1058, another bill included in the Lower Energy Costs Act, would require the president to receive congressional approval in order to repeal a permit for a cross-border energy facility, such as the Keystone XL.
The Lower Energy Costs Act would also roll back unnecessary limitations on imports and exports of liquified natural gas (LNG) and allow domestic energy producers to deploy American energy to countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the U.S. By streamlining these exports, the United States can provide essential energy which would allow these countries to stimulate domestic economic growth and diversify their energy sources to cleaner, American-produced fuel.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has already called HR 1 “dead on arrival”at a time where Saudi-led oil producers are planning on cutting oil production by more than 1 million barrels per day. However, Schumer has signaled that he’s willing to negotiate around permitting reform.
While Democratic leadership has irrationally rejected the legislation, House Republicans have brought an all-of-the-above solution for an issue that has been neglected by Schumer’s progressive allies. HR 1 is anything but a “wishlist for big oil,” as the New York Democrat indelicately labeled it. As gas prices are steadily rising – again – this bill would largely counteract the flawed policies implemented by the Biden administration and finally unleash American energy production during a make-or-break moment for America’s economy.
Modernizing America’s current permitting apparatus, would benefit all energy sources and bring more projects online quicker. If Democrats are serious about combating climate change in an economically efficient manner, the Lower Energy Costs Act would be starting a conversation in the Senate. House Republicans have made energy affordability and energy security the centerpiece of their campaign. It’s time Democrats follow suit.
Jorge Velasco is a sophomore at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. He has multiple bylines in the Washington Examiner, Federalist, Daily Caller and more. Follow him on Twitter @velascoAjorge.