Responding to rising gasoline prices at the pump, the geopolitical turmoil resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and what they see as a deliberate effort by the Biden administration to cripple the American energy sector in the name of combatting climate change, Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced bills designed to restore U.S. energy independence and provide relief to American consumers.
Shortly after taking office, President Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline, blocked new oil and natural gas leases on federal land and waters, issued regulations raising the costs of domestic fossil-fuel production, and promoted policies making the United States more reliant on intermittent renewable energy, primarily wind and solar power.
Reversing course on these policies is the underlying theme of the Republican bills, according to their various legislative sponsors.
Restoring Energy Independence
Among the most sweeping of the bills introduced to restart domestic fossil fuel production is the “American Energy Independence Act of 2022” (AEIA).
The AEIA, sponsored by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), was introduced shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“The Biden administration’s energy policies are completely backwards and now working Americans are paying the price,” Hawley said in a statement. “The United States cannot afford to be energy dependent on our enemies.
“We must reopen domestic energy production full throttle, restore our energy independence, and reverse this policy of American energy surrender,” Hawley said.
The American Energy Independence Act of 2022 states that it is “the official policy of the United States to achieve full energy independence and low energy costs for its citizens in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
To obtain this goal the bill directs federal agencies to identify and rescind existing regulations that have the effect of reducing American energy independence, bars new rules that reduce energy security or raise energy prices, and directs agencies to work to achieve energy independence by 2024.
Keystone, Paris, and Beyond
Other provisions in the AEIA would ease the regulatory burdens on energy companies engaged in fracking; restore the federal permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, in particular, and ease the process for constructing and maintaining new pipelines, in general.
The AEIA also bars any U.S. funding of the Paris climate agreement, and blocks further contributions to any of its programs, rescinds the Biden administration’s moratorium on oil and gas leases on public lands, and directs federal agencies to set the “social cost of carbon,” at $0.00 per ton when considering infrastructure projects and to prioritize boosting domestic energy production over fighting climate change.
Boosting America, Punishing Putin
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) teamed up with Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) to introduce the “American Energy Independence from Russia Act.”
In addition to sharing many of the goals and provisions of Hawley’s AEIA, this measure also aims to punish Russia for invading Ukraine by, among other things, boosting U.S. exports of liquified natural gas (LNG) to Europe too provide an alternative to Russian gas.
“Putin and Russia’s economy are dependent on dominating energy production and exporting to other nations,” said Rodgers and Westerman in a joint a statement upon offering their bill. “To counter Putin, our bill flips the switch to promote American energy jobs, production, and exports.
“America must shut down Putin’s war chest and stop bloodshed in Ukraine, and this legislation is a vital step in achieving those goals,” said Rogers and Westerman.
Prescient ESCAPE Act
In what appears to be an early recognition of current domestic and international energy security problems, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) sponsored identical versions of the “Energy Security Cooperation with Allied Partners in Europe Act” (ESCAPE act) more than year before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Barrasso and Miller introduced their companion bills shortly after the then newly installed Biden administration, reversing a Trump-era policy, dropped U.S. objections to the Russia’s Nord Stream II pipeline.
The ESCAPE act directs the U.S. permanent representative to NATO to work with NATO member states to address energy security for the organization’s members and partners in Europe and Eurasia.
The bill also calls for a the U.S. government to develop a comprehensive transatlantic energy strategy, focusing on increasing the energy security of U.S. and its allies and partners, in part by increasing U.S. energy exports to those countries. Another provision of the ESCAPE act requires the Energy Secretary to expedite the approval of natural gas exports to NATO allies, Japan, and any other foreign country where exports of natural gas would promote U.S. national security. The bill also authorizes mandatory U.S. sanctions on the development of Russian pipeline projects, such as Nord Stream II.
“Energy security is national security, and expanding American energy exports will create a safer Europe by removing Vladimir Putin’s heavy hand from our allies’ energy grids,” Rep. Miller said on introducing her bill in the House.
Leaving ‘Energy Dead End’
These bills share a common goal, shoring up U.S. independence and thus our economic security, says Craig Rucker, president of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which co-publishes Environment & Climate News.
“These bills have two things in common,” said Rucker. “First, they offer a clear path out of the energy dead end that the United States and its allies find themselves in.
“Second, they have absolutely no chance of being enacted as long as the Biden White House remains committed to its destructive climate policies,” said Rucker.
Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D., (email@example.com) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and a senior policy analyst with CFACT.
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