Story by Peter Kasperowicz
The House voted Thursday to reverse the Biden administration’s energy policies that Republicans say are eroding U.S. energy security and raising prices for consumers – and picked up support from a small number of Democrats even though President Biden has said he would veto the bill.
The Lower Energy Costs Act passed 225-204 in a vote that saw four Democrats side with Republicans, and one Republican vote against it. The bill – which attacks everything from Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline to restrictions on oil and gas development to proposed bans on gas stoves – also saw dozens of Democrats support GOP amendments as the bill was being considered.
Late Wednesday, 29 Democrats voted for an amendment aimed at banning Biden’s Department of Energy from imposing heavy new restrictions on gas stoves. Another amendment requiring a study on how banning gas stoves might raise electricity prices won the support of 48 Democrats.
Elsewhere, 21 Democrats supported an amendment requiring the EPA to report on all regulations that have hurt U.S. energy independence, and seven Democrats voted for language disapproving of tax hikes on oil and gas development in Biden’s proposed budget.
Those votes are a blow to the Biden administration, which dismissed the bill this week as an attempt by Republicans to give companies a “thinly veiled license to pollute.” The White House argued the best way to lower energy prices is to keep funding green energy initiatives and said Biden would veto the bill if it made it to his desk.
House Democrats who oppose the bill made similar arguments against the legislation on the floor this week.
“Looking more like a nearly 200-page love letter to polluting industries than a serious legislative effort, the polluters over people act is a laundry list of gifts and giveaways to polluting industries,” argued Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.
But the dozens of Democrat votes seen in the amendment process – particularly on the issue of banning gas appliances – showed a real split within the party. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., who introduced the bill, said it has become evident to most Americans that Biden has “waged a war on American energy” that is hitting working families.
Republicans added during floor debate that by opposing domestic oil, gas and critical mineral development, the U.S. is being forced to rely on foreign suppliers in Russia, China and elsewhere that aren’t nearly as environmentally conscious as America.
“Democrats have sent a clear message about their priorities,” McCarthy said. “They are the party of $5 gas, subsidizing Communist China and the never-ending dependence on foreign dictators for minerals we have in America.”
The legislation as passed by the House is broadly aimed at repealing taxes and regulations on energy production and making it easier to develop new energy sources.
It prohibits a ban on hydraulic fracturing in a bid to reject Biden’s decision in his first week in office to ban new fracking on federal land. It kills a moratorium on coal leases on federal land that started in the Obama administration and was revived by the Biden administration. It repeals a tax created by the Inflation Reduction Act on methane emissions that is expected to ding the oil and gas industry for more than $6 billion over the next decade.
It also requires the Department of the Interior to conduct delayed onshore oil and lease gas sales and release its long-delayed five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing. The offshore plan was due last summer and could be delayed for 18 months or more, which leaves the U.S. with no new lease sale options – industry experts have warned that the delay is likely to create significant energy disruptions in the future.
Elsewhere, the bill bans China from controlling energy development on U.S. land, creates a new Clean Energy Act waiver to pursue U.S. energy development, and makes it harder for left-leaning states to block critical energy projects.