Energy and Commerce Committee To Advance Legislation to Address Rising Gasoline Prices

March 23, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) today outlined plans to advance two bills through the committee to help address rising gasoline prices. The process will begin next Wednesday when Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) will hold a hearing to discuss legislation to ensure our emergency energy reserves are not tapped without steps to increase domestic energy production, as well as a proposal requiring agencies to examine, for the first time, the cumulative effect of current and proposed regulations that threaten to increase fuel costs.
 
In recent weeks the White House has indicated openness to tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to mitigate rising crude oil prices linked to potential oil supply disruptions in the Middle East, yet the administration has taken little action to increase supplies through more domestic production. In fact, only three percent of federal lands are currently leased. To hold the president accountable and ensure short-term politically motivated energy decisions do not imperil our long-term energy security, the committee will advance the Strategic Energy Production Act, authored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), which will link tapping the SPR to increasing energy production on federal lands. If the president chooses to release oil from the SPR, the administration will be required to develop and execute a plan to lease more federal lands. For example, if the president releases 5 percent of our emergency reserves for sale, he must also increase the percentage of federal lands leased for energy development by 5 percent. A discussion draft of the Strategic Energy Production Act is available here.

"The way to lower high gas prices is through strong domestic production, not quick fix politics. By increasing domestic production opportunities to match amounts released from the reserve, this legislation turns a short term infusion of supply from the SPR into a long term policy securing America's energy future," said Gardner.
 
The committee will also consider draft legislation offered by Chairman Whitfield, the Gasoline Regulations Act, which would require an interagency committee to conduct a cumulative analysis on certain EPA rules and actions that impact the price of gasoline and diesel fuels. The study will examine Tier 3 motor vehicle emissions and fuel standards, New Source Performance Standards for petroleum refiners, Renewable Fuel Standards, ozone standards, and Greenhouse Gas PSD and Title V permitting actions. The Gas Regs Act will provide for a better understanding of the costs and consequences of these rules as well as pause implementation of the Tier 3 standards, refinery NSPS rules, and ozone standards until at least 6 months until after the report is submitted to Congress. A discussion draft of the Gasoline Regulations Act is available here.

"I am very concerned about rising gas prices that all Americans are facing at the pump and I am concerned that additional regulations on gasoline and refineries will only make fuel prices higher. We need to have a full understanding of what EPA's rules are going to cost consumers cumulatively before we impose costly regulations," said Whitfield. "In three years under President Obama, we have seen average gas prices more than double. This is unacceptable. My plan directs the President to establish an interagency committee to study certain EPA rules and actions that impact the price of gasoline and diesel fuels, while placing a pause on three of the most devastating regulations until the study is complete. Under this plan, we make sure that regulations are not imposed that cause businesses to shut down, and lead to increase gas prices. I look forward to finalizing legislation in this framework, and moving it through the legislative process."

"Despite President Obama's promises for an all-of-the-above energy plan, his administration continues to pick winners and losers at the expense of the American people. Misguided policies have left 98 percent of our offshore federal lands and over 95 percent of our onshore federal lands unleased for energy exploration or production. Overlaid on top of this is an unprecedented regulatory burden that contributes to refinery shutdowns and higher prices at the pump," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "The American people are fed up with the high prices and volatility of filling up and what they want are results, not more of the same-old rhetoric. I thank my colleagues Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Gardner for introducing these two important bills and I look forward to advancing them through the committee and the full House."
 
Both these bills are part of House Republicans' strategy for long-term energy solutions under the American Energy Initiative. In the 112th Congress, the House has passed legislation to remove barriers to North American energy supplies to help lower gas prices and support job creation. Most recently, the House passed H.R. 3408, legislation produced by the Natural Resources Committee that would expand American energy production both offshore and onshore; the bill also included a provision championed through the Energy and Commerce Committee to require approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.