Pallone Decries House GOP’s 19th Century Energy Bill
Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today gave the following statement during House Floor debate on the House Amendment to S. 2012, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015.
Mr. Speaker, today, we are considering the House Amendment to S. 2012, the mistitled “North American Energy Security Act of 2016.” This legislation once again shows us the vastly different paths taken by the two chambers of Congress.
On one hand, there’s the Senate energy bill that the House intends to go to conference on. It passed by a vote of 85-12 because it is balanced and because it contains a number of non-energy provisions that the public supports overwhelmingly, such as permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
On the other hand, the House Energy bill was the result of a highly partisan process that the President threatened to veto.
As we prepare to head to conference, we have a second chance to do things right and to produce a new, bipartisan energy law. Unfortunately, that is not what we are doing today. The Republican majority has decided to replace the consensus Senate bill with a new pro-polluter package that dwarfs the original H.R. 8.
When crafting the House Amendment before us today, the Republican Caucus decided to tack-on over 30 extraneous bills to an already bad piece of energy legislation that the President promised to veto. And, while a number of these new additions are noncontroversial bills, many of these provisions are divisive, dangerous and have drawn veto threats of their own.
The House Amendment to S. 2012 weakens protections for public health and the environment, undermines existing laws designed to promote efficiency, and does nothing to help realize the clean and renewable energy policies of the future.
And, of course, this so-called energy infrastructure bill provides absolutely no money to modernize the grid or our pipeline infrastructure.
The House Amendment is a backward-looking piece of energy legislation at a time when we need to move forward.
Let me highlight some of the most harmful provisions solely from the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee:
This bill eliminates the current presidential permitting process for energy projects that cross the U.S. border. Such action would create a new, weaker process that effectively rubber-stamps permit applications and allows the Keystone pipeline to rise from the grave.
It makes dangerous and unnecessary changes to the FERC natural gas pipeline siting process at the expense of private landowners, the environment, and our national parks. It harms electricity consumers at all levels by interfering with competitive electricity markets to subsidize uneconomic generating facilities. These facilities would otherwise be rejected by the market in favor of lower cost natural gas and renewable options.
It strikes language in current law that requires federal buildings be designed to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.
It creates loopholes that would permit hydropower operators to dodge compliance with environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, and gives preferential treatment to electric utilities at the expense of states, tribes, farmers, and sportsmen. And it contains an energy efficiency title that, if enacted, would actually result in a net increase in consumption and greenhouse gas emissions compared to current law.
Frankly, this is not a legitimate exercise in legislating and it speaks volumes about the total lack of seriousness with which House Republicans are approaching this conference. We should be trying to narrow the differences and move closer to the bipartisan Senate product. Instead, we are going the opposite direction, voting on an 800 page monstrosity energy package that the Republican leadership has stitched together from pieces of pro-polluter bills that passed the House only to die in the Senate or on the President’s desk. Voting once on these fundamentally flawed ideas was more than enough; we shouldn’t be making a mockery of the Conference process and using the House floor to try to raise the dead.
The House Amendment to S. 2012 has one central theme binding its energy provisions: an unerring devotion to the energy of the past. It is the Republican Party’s 19th century vision for the future of U.S. energy policy in the 21st century.
I strongly oppose the House Amendment to S. 2012, and urge my colleagues to do the same.