House Republicans unveil ‘Big Oil wish list’

Mar 16, 2023

This week, after months of hype, House Republicans unveiled their energy and permitting reform package. H.R. 1, the “Lower Energy Costs Act,” combines several bills that have already moved through committees in the House. The resulting package is a grab bag of Republican messaging priorities—such as a section expressing disapproval of the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline—and a variety of industry wish list items.

Included in the package is the “Transparency, Accountability, Permitting and Production of American Resources Act.” This bill proposes, among other things, to reverse many of the Inflation Reduction Act’s reforms to the onshore oil and gas leasing program. The bill would also grant an oil industry wish list of exemptions from the environmental analysis requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. At the same time, the bill would require assessments of resource and revenue potential before agencies update land use management plans or enact mineral withdrawals, a provision that is intended to elevate drilling and fracking over other important public land uses and values such as recreation and conservation.

“This absurd legislation makes it clear that Big Oil’s goal is to profit off America’s public lands above all else, when polls show that this is the exact opposite of what Western voters want,” Center for Western Priorities Policy Director Rachael Hamby said in a statement on the bill’s passage out of the House Natural Resources Committee last month. “The proponents of this bill have exposed themselves for who they really represent: oil and gas CEOs, not the American people.”

Two other bills included in the package—the “Building US Infrastructure through Limited Delays and Efficient Reviews (BUILDER) Act” and the “Permitting for Mining Needs (PERMIT-MN) Act”— attempt to streamline permitting by gutting the National Environmental Policy Act. While some permitting updates have bipartisan support because they would also benefit renewable energy projects, combining those provisions with a laundry list of industry giveaways makes the package a “nonstarter” for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “The package is a wish list for Big Oil, gutting important environmental safeguards on fossil fuel projects,” Schumer said. House leadership aims to hold a floor vote on the package by the end of March, but it will be “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

White House announces conservation summit at Interior department

The Interior department will host a “White House Conservation in Action Summit” next Tuesday, according to a White House announcement. President Biden is scheduled to speak at the event, which will highlight the administration’s conservation actions and investments.

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Quote of the day

”We cannot drill our way to a sustainable future.”

—Ben Jealous, Sierra Club, E&E News

Picture this

Close-up of frost on desert shrubs

What a beautiful morning!

While any day is a great time to admire nature’s artwork, today is especially gorgeous! It has been changing by the minute. We have had fog, fog with the sun shining through, and now sunshine with ragged clouds off in the distance. The magical frost is quickly disappearing, leaving behind water droplets that shimmer in the sunlight.

If you visit the same outdoor places again and again during different seasons and different weather conditions, you will be rewarded with beautiful moments like these.

📷NPS/S. Deibler

(featured image: Drilling equipment in Wyoming, Bureau of Land Management)