State and national business groups are urging passage of H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Cost Act, legislation identified by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy as House Republicans’ number 1 priority for the 118th Congress.
McCarthy says the legislation will “restore American energy leadership” by eliminating “onerous taxes and regulation on American energy producers so we can lead the world in providing clean, affordable energy.”
McCarthy says the bill will also make it easier to build new energy products in this country by streamlining permitting and regulatory costs that typically delay infrastructure projects like pipelines, roads and dams.
“We can streamline permitting and still protect the environment,” McCarthy said.
Environmental Impact Statements, which are intensive environmental reviews, can be time intensive and expensive. A 2020 White House review found that the average EIS was 575 pages.
In addition to permitting reforms, the bill also addresses oil drilling on federal land, natural gas extraction, the ability for the U.S. to export liquified natural gas, and removes barriers to mining projects, among other provisions.
The bill is earning plaudits from advocates for job creation, including the National Association of Manufacturers.
“H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, strengthens manufacturing competitiveness by increasing energy security and modernizing permitting in the U.S.,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said in a tweet.
Grace Appelbe, executive director of the Arizona Manufacturers Council, which is the state affiliate of NAM, said she and her members agree with Timmons.
“This bill is essential if we’re going to put downward pressure on energy prices, a major input to the manufacturing process and a cost driver,” Appelbe said. “Arizona manufacturers believe strongly that environmental stewardship and economic expansion are not mutually exclusive. We can cut red tape and regulatory costs in a responsible way.”
Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden recently met with McCarthy and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., about the two leaders’ policy agenda for the new Congress, and energy reform figured prominently.
“Speaker McCarthy and Leader Scalise deserve tremendous credit for designating a bill to roll back regulations around domestic energy production as their top priority,” Seiden said. “The Arizona business community is excited about the potential for new infrastructure projects and energy cost savings that H.R. 1 would make possible. This bill will enhance the country’s international competitiveness.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is equally supportive of the legislation.
“This bill would advance important policies to improve the permitting process, ensure strong domestic energy production, protect energy exports and increase production and processing of our own critical minerals,” said Marty Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber Global Energy Institute.
The House could vote on the bill as soon as next week. Additional negotiations will be required for the bill to pass the Senate, however, as the bill is unlikely to be able to clear the 60-vote threshold necessary to avoid a filibuster.
While Republicans are expected to support the bill, Senate Democrats like Jon Tester, Mont., and Joe Manchin, W.Va., could also support several provisions of the legislation. Both senators are likely to face tough reelection campaigns next year.