By Rachel Frazin
March 16, 2023 - House Republicans on Tuesday afternoon introduced a sprawling energy package aimed at boosting fossil fuels and mining and limiting environmental reviews for infrastructure projects.
The nearly 200-page bill, which they announced last week would be H.R.1 – signaling that it is the party’s top priority — is highly partisan and is unlikely to pass through a divided Congress.
However, it does outline Republican goals and positions – particularly as they seek to both criticize the Biden Administration’s energy policies but also to try to find a bipartisan compromise for speeding up infrastructure project approvals.
“Voters gave Republicans the majority in Congress to stop this radical anti-American energy agenda, and to take action that will lower prices,” Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in a statement, referring to the Biden administration’s agenda.
“I am proud to introduce today H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, to cut red tape and increase energy production here at home so we can lower energy costs and stop our dependence on hostile foreign countries for our energy and minerals,” he added.
The package specifically takes actions aimed at bolstering fossil fuel production, including making it easier to import and export natural gas, requiring more offshore oil and gas lease sales to be held, bar the president from halting fracking and taking power away from states to reject pipelines and gas export facilities that could impact their waterways.
It also mandates that four onshore oil lease sales are held in each of at least nine eligible states each year.
The legislation seeks to repeal climate provisions in the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, specifically programs that: incentivize the oil and gas industry to cut methane emissions through rewards and penalties, fund climate-friendly projects through the Environmental Protection Agency and raise fees that companies have to pay for drilling on public lands and waters.
For mining, the legislation contains a provision that would require an assessment that includes economic impacts to be conducted before barring mining on certain federal lands.
The bill also contains provisions aimed at speeding up the approval process for infrastructure projects — known as permitting reform. Specifically the legislation would set time and page limits for environmental reviews and require lawsuits against approved projects to be filed within 120 days.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has also sought to push policies that would speed up the permitting process in the Senate. Last year, many Republicans stood in the way of that effort, saying that Manchin’s proposal did not go far enough.
Bipartisan talks on the permitting issue are ongoing.
The new Republican energy bill garnered pushback from environmentalists.
“This destructive energy bill does not offer real solutions to high energy costs and would lock us into decades of dirty, volatile fossil fuels, perpetuate the climate crisis, and cut out communities from the process,” said Sara Chieffo, vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, in a written statement.