Political Issue of the Issue: Lower Energy Costs Act would dramatically shift US energy policy

Patrick Done, Chief-of-Staff

Since the 2022 midterm elections, the United States House of Representatives has been under the control of Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and his Republican majority. The new majority has set out a wide range of legislative proposals including the Republicans top legislative priority House Resolution One (HR1), otherwise known as the Lower Energy Costs Act. 

This new legislation would dramatically shift United States energy policy, focusing more on expanding domestic energy production through new oil and natural gas facilities and subsidies. HR1 would also cut existing subsidies that encourage companies to transfer away from oil and natural gas production. House Republicans have justified this bill by citing recent increases in energy costs, with Speaker McCarthy focusing on how energy production affects every aspect of American policy.

“To lower costs for Americans and grow our economy, we need to get the federal government out of the way. The Lower Energy Costs Act will fast-track American energy production and includes comprehensive permitting reforms that will speed construction for everything from pipelines to transmission to water infrastructure. And it ensures that the critical minerals needed for advanced technologies come from America – not China.” said Speaker McCarthy in a recent public statement.

 House Democrats have heavily criticized HR1, claiming that the legislation endangers America’s transition to renewable energy and the international fight against the climate crisis. Environmental groups have also come out publicly against the Lower Energy Costs Act focusing on how there is little evidence suggesting that recent investments in renewable energy production have increased energy costs.

“The hyper-partisan, Republican-led legislation that we have voted on today is not the answer. [H.R. 1] will do little to nothing to address the problems that Texas and our nation face. H.R. 1 will not address our country’s energy security or lower energy costs for hardworking families, and it certainly won’t help faltering grids in places like my home state of Texas.” said Democratic Representative Marc Veasy, who serves on the House committee on Energy and Commerce. 

The Lower Energy Costs Act passed the House in a bipartisan 225 – 204 vote but is unlikely to receive a floor vote in the Democrat controlled Senate. President Biden has also promised to veto the legislation if it ever reaches his desk, citing many of the concerns raised by climate activists and House Democrats. Regardless of the fate of the bill, HR1 represents many of the fights that will populate Washington over the next two years as the federal legislature now stands divided between the Republicans and Democrats.