It's Energy Week in the House! The House of Representatives passed three bills last week in a retread of some familiar old themes in newer packaging.
HR 3301 North American Energy Infrastructure Act
This one is partly about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Anticipating that the President may reject Keystone, this bill allows TransCanada to reapply for a permit under a weaker environmental review regime stacked in their favor.
HR 4899 Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act of 2014
This bill asks the fossil fuel industry to hand pick the parcels of public land where they most want to drill and forces our Government to lease them out. One such place includes the offshore coast of Santa Barbara, California where the devastation left from a 1969 offshore oil spill became one of the hallmarks of the environmental movement.
HR 6 Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act
This bill fast-tracks Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export facilities like the one proposed at Cove Point in Southern Maryland. Bill sponsor and Colorado Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner and his opponent Sen. Mark Udall have rival bills creating deadlines for the Department of Energy (DOE) to short circuit project approval.
Senator Udall had the opening salvo with his bill giving DOE only 45 days to rubber stamp an LNG export terminal. The very next day, Rep. Gardner introduced his proposal giving DOE 90 days. But with the Udall proposal still awaiting a hearing, Rep. Gardner seized the opportunity for one-upmanship by cutting the wait to 30 days.
What’s In a Name?
No one seriously believes that drilling off Santa Barbara’s coast will lower domestic gas prices any more than fracking Texas for gas exports will create global freedom. There is nothing patriotic in giving away public lands in a sweetheart deal to the oil and gas industry. Nor is shipping away domestic gas resources. Nor is gutting agency reviews that protect public health and the environment.
Independence Day is approaching and most of Congress have already left town for the July 4 recess. When we see our Members of Congress at this weekend’s town parade, let’s remind them that nominally striking a patriotic chord does not justify providing more giveaways for polluters.