Right at the beginning of last week, Team Biden announced that ConocoPhillips would be allowed to explore for and produce petroleum in a very small portion of the (wait for it) National Petroleum Reserve, which was created 100 years ago specifically so companies could explore for and produce oil in that part of Alaska.
At the same time, Team Biden precluded exploration for oil and natural gas on 16 million acres (an area about the size of Senator Manchin’s West Virginia). (RELATED: CARLA SANDS: Biden Admin Is Dazed And Confused When It Comes To American Energy)
The next day, in contrast to President Joe Biden’s approach which focused, as it always has, on narrowing the ability of the American people to find and produce energy, the House Republicans introduced energy legislation which would help the nation and the world meet their growing and welcome need for affordable and reliable energy.
The Lower Energy Costs Act (H.R. 1) removes impediments to finding and producing energy. It encourages the federal government to stick to permitting timelines and decide whether projects will be allowed to proceed — one way or the other — within a reasonable time.
It will help the private sector mine and process critical minerals. It addresses a longstanding problem with some states using a provision of the Clean Water Act as a de facto veto of energy projects of all kinds.
The legislation is a welcome first step in rebalancing the need for energy with the exigencies of federal permitting processes. Is it perfect? Will it solve all of our permitting problems overnight? Can it scour away the accumulated decades of bureaucratic indifference, legal precedents, and unwise statutory drafting and construction? (RELATED: VERONIQUE DE RUGY: What Biden’s Budget Really Aims To Do)
Probably not. But the longest journey — and this will be a long one — starts with a single step. This particular step is both welcome and impressive.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Cathy Rogers was clear in her thoughts about the legislation: “H.R. 1 boosts energy production, lifts regulatory burdens for the construction of more energy infrastructure, cuts China out of critical materials supply chains, and lowers costs across the board. All of this will ensure we build a better and more secure future in America.”
The legislation is also a testament to Republican stewardship of the House. It was constructed in subcommittees and committees, where amendments were freely allowed and freely voted on. This is also in contrast to the previous management, who had a fondness for large, unwieldy bills that few could even read let alone fully comprehend in the few hours between introduction and voting.
For purposes of comparison, H.R. 1 is scheduled for floor consideration in the last week of March.
The good people over at the American Energy Alliance (AEA) have a running total of all the actions taking by the current administration that complicate and retard Americans’ ability to find and produce the energy we need. That list now stands at 125 items, and it grows almost every day. Placing 16 million acres off limits for production is just the latest addition to this discouraging list. Thomas Pyle, who runs AEA, noted that: “This administration is doing everything it possibly can to limit future production of oil and natural gas.”
It doesn’t require much imagination to predict that as we wander towards the 2024 election cycle, Mr. Biden will add more things to the list in an attempt to strengthen his appeal to the environmental community, especially the donors.
Like many things, the parties’ different approaches to energy will be on the ballot in 2024. Last week, Mr. Biden made his preferences clear — higher prices, less natural gas, more imported oil, greater reliance on intermittent sources of energy whose supply chains originate in or pass through slaving, genocidal and hostile communist China.
The Republicans also made their preferences clear — lower energy prices, more reliable energy, more domestic oil and natural gas production, more responsive and decisive bureaucracies and less reliance on our adversary communist China.
It will be interesting to see which of those visions the American voters prefer.
Michael McKenna is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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