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Massive House GOP Energy Bill Praised, Pilloried in Marathon First Hearing

The Lower Energy Costs Act, a 175-page comprehensive energy bill, includes 16 Republican-sponsored bills, two resolutions, and 68 amendments. The bill seeks to “unleash America’s energy” by rolling back many of the “green energy” regulations adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives during the Democrat control of the House over the last four years. The bill is designated as House Resolution 1 (HR 1) and is sponsored by Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), highlighting its importance for Republicans post-2022 midterm elections when the party regained a narrow majority in the chamber.

The bill, among other things, would loosen oil and gas regulations, expand leases on public lands, invest in pipelines and refineries, push for greater export capacity of U.S. energy, and incentivize mining, especially for critical/strategic minerals. Supporters of the measure maintain that the bill retains the push for renewable energies such as solar, wind, and nuclear power, however, seeks to slow down the forced rapid transition to green energies, which the House GOP believes is responsible for inflation and weakening the nation’s energy independence. On the other hand, opponents of the bill see it as a short-sighted backslide to dependence on finite fossil fuels that endanger an environment already under strain from climate change, and will delay necessary steps towards developing renewable energies, which will define the global economy by mid-century.

The three-and-a-half-hour point-counterpoint slogfest before the House Rules Committee, during the bill’s first hearing on March 27, demonstrated the stark contrast regarding HR 1 and the country’s energy policy. Representatives of both parties held polar-opposite views on the bill and the measures it would introduce.

The Congress is Split into Two Universes

“We are just in different universes,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) addressing the panel’s Democrats. Some Republicans accused the Democrats of focusing on wokeism in schools and banning books, while they should prioritize sustainable energy sources. Meanwhile, Democrats referred to HR 1 as “The Polluters Over People Act,” saying that it won’t lower energy costs, make the United States less energy-dependent, and enriches corporations that rip off consumers. Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) accused Republicans of pandering to Big Oil and described HR 1 as “a 175-page love letter to gas, mining, and other polluting industries.”

The Bill Contains Opposition Views on Energy Policy

HR 1 bundles 16 Republican-sponsored bills, two resolutions, and 68 amendments into one measure. The bill seeks to fix the artificial Biden policy restrictions that have been driving energy costs higher by enhancing oil and gas regulations, expanding leases on public lands, investing in pipelines and refineries, encouraging U.S. energy exports, and incentivizing mining for critical minerals. This omnibus bill incorporates seven proposals that address oil and gas regulation, including reforms of the Clean Air, Toxic Substances, and Solid Waste acts as well as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). While proponents insist the bill retains the push for renewable energies, opponents view it as a backslide to dependence on finite fossil fuels that endanger the environment and delay necessary steps towards developing renewable energy sources.

A Deficit of Consensus

The bill seeks to release America’s energy resources and lift the artificial Biden policy restrictions that have impacted energy affordability and security for consumers. Republicans argue that the United States has a 150-year supply of oil and natural gas and claim that the Biden administration would prefer to see the nation import its energy rather than develop it domestically. Conversely, Democrats believe that the bill repeals critical IRA provisions that hold polluters accountable and gives handouts to Big Oil. They allege that HR 1 will result in higher energy costs and increase companies’ pollution levels, with taxpayers footing the cleanup bills. The Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of HR 1 is a $2.1 billion to $2.4 billion annual deficit increase. Representatives Brice Westerman (R-Ark.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas) have disputed Democrats’ interpretation of the CBO’s analysis, claiming that the bill would exactly what it says it would do, which is lower energy costs.

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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