Senators Split on House-Passed Energy Bill

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito to Pursue Bipartisan Backing
Shelley Moore Capito
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito by Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News

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The top Republican on the highway policy panel in the U.S. Senate intends to pursue bipartisan backing for comprehensive energy legislation.

The announcement from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, came shortly after House members passed a bill specific to domestic energy production and the environmental permitting process.

“The anti-energy policies and burdensome regulations of the Biden administration have driven up costs for millions of Americans and made the United States more reliant on foreign nations,” said Capito on March 30.

“Today, the House took an important first step in providing relief for families struggling to fill up their cars and pay their utility bills, making it easier to build key energy and infrastructure projects, and returning America to energy independence,” she emphasized. “Through the committee process, I’m looking forward to continue working with Democrats and Republicans to find areas of compromise and deliver solutions that make genuine reforms to the permitting process and support energy production here at home.”

While Capito’s viewpoint is shared by Republicans in the upper chamber, Democratic leaders expressed opposition to proposals resembling HR 1, the House-passed Lower Energy Costs Act. Leading the pushback is Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Congress resumes its legislative agenda the week of April 17.

“The Senate is not going to waste our time on a bill that sets America back decades in our transition to clean energy. All it takes is a brief glance at HR 1 to realize it’s a giveaway to big oil,” said Schumer on March 30. “House Republicans’ so-called energy package guts important safeguards, environmental safeguards on fossil fuel projects, it would lock America into expensive, erratic and dirty energy sources, while setting us back more than a decade on our decision to move forward on clean energy, which this nation fully supports.”

The House on March 30 passed by a vote of 225 to 204 a GOP-led energy and infrastructure permitting legislation. Sponsors of the bill said it captured the Republicans’ priorities for their domestic policy agenda.

“This bill does exactly what the bill title says. It will lower energy costs for American families, farmers and businesses by removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to critical energy projects and by increasing our energy independence, all while continuing to protect our environment,” explained Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) on March 30. “Key contributions from Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members will prevent federal water regulations from being abused to block needed energy projects and will apply ‘one federal decision’ streamlining reforms to pipeline projects. Energy costs remain unbearably high for too many Americans, and this bill will make a real difference.”

“Republicans are prioritizing the American people over the Democrats’ radical climate agenda,” added Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). “On his first day in office, President [Joe] Biden started the war on American energy. He has revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, imposed a moratorium on oil production on federal lands, directed agencies across the federal government to impose punitive and burdensome regulations, and made us more reliant on China.”

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Provisions in the bill the sponsors highlighted target domestic energy production. The bill also would update the permitting process for industries, reverse certain Biden administration energy-centric policies, streamline energy exports and enhance production and processing of minerals. A summary of the measure noted that it is the “sense of the Congress that the federal government should not impose any restrictions on the export of crude oil or other petroleum products.”

The White House expressed opposition to the legislation.