A Free-Market Energy Blog

H.R. 1: Placeholder for Federal Energy Policy Reform (2024 elections ahead)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 31, 2023

H.R. 1 can be characterized as pro-free market and deregulatory. But it is only a start. Free market reforms will ultimately require repealing dusty old federal laws from the New Deal (Public Utility Holding Company Act; Federal Power Act; Natural Gas Act) and laws before and after…. At the same time, numerous states should implement free market reforms by repealing and amending laws.

The Lower Energy Costs Act just passed the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support. Senate confirmation is not expected to pass it, and the Biden Administration has promised a veto. But it is a start, a placeholder, for pro-consumer, pro-taxpayer, pro-freedom policy reform to come.

H.R. 1, in the words of its sponsors, “restores American energy independence by:

  • Increasing domestic energy production
  • Reforming the permitting process for all industries
  • Reversing anti-energy policies advanced by the Biden Administration
  • Streamlining energy infrastructure and exports
  • Boosting the production and processing of critical minerals

A summary of the Bill follows:

H.R. 1—sponsored by Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and co-sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR), and Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO)—unleashes American energy and lowers costs for families.

Unleash American Energy:
• Prohibits President Biden from banning hydraulic fracturing
• Repeals all restrictions on the import and export of natural gas, including LNG
• Prevents liberal states from blocking interstate infrastructure projects
• Repeals President Biden’s $6 billion natural gas tax that would increase energy bills for families
• Rolls back President Biden’s $27 billion EPA slush fund for Democrat special interests
• Disapproves of President Biden’s canceling of the Keystone XL pipeline
• Requires the Department of the Interior to resume lease sales on federal lands and waters
• Repeals harmful royalties and fee increases imposed on energy production that drive up prices for families
• Ensures parity in energy revenue sharing for states with onshore and offshore energy development
• Requires publication of the 2023-28 offshore oil and gas lease sales plan/sets deadlines for future 5-year plans
Reform Broken Permitting Process:
• Reforms the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitting process to streamline federal reviews for all sectors of the economy, including at our international borders
• Limits scope of environmental review under NEPA to reasonably foreseeable and economically feasible impacts
• Sets deadlines for completion of NEPA reviews at one year for environmental assessments and two years for environmental impact statements
• Provides certainty by imposing a 120-day deadline on filing litigation on final agency actions concerning energy and mining projects
• Requires that certain low-impact activities and activities in previously studied areas on public lands are not major federal actions under NEPA
• Ends the abuse of the water quality certification process by streamlining the permitting process under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and limiting review to water quality impacts only
• Enhances America’s ability to develop critical energy resources by improving the environmental permitting processes at critical minerals refining and process facilities

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise stated:

“For the last two years, President Biden and his extremist friends in Washington have waged a war on American energy, and hard-working families across the country are paying the price. Gas and utility costs have skyrocketed to record highs, with the average American paying over 40 percent more for gas at the pump since President Biden took office…. The Lower Energy Costs Act … will show the country how to end the war on American energy, become energy independent again, and lower costs for hard-working families who are struggling under the weight of President Biden’s radical agenda. I

Speaker Kevin McCarty:

Last Congress, House Republicans established our Energy, Climate, and Conservation Task Force to develop energy policies that meet the real needs of our constituents and our country. H.R. 1, The Lower Energy Costs Act, is a culmination of that promise. This bill counters President Biden’s attack on our domestic energy, and includes permitting reforms that will speed construction for major infrastructure projects across the country. [W]e now have a bill that will grow our economy, strengthen our national security, and ensure clean, affordable, American energy can power the world.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers:

From the gas station to the grocery store, President Biden’s war on energy is making life unaffordable for the hardworking people of this country and forcing us to be dangerously reliant on supply chains controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. We must reverse course. H.R. 1 boosts energy production, lifts regulatory burdens for the construction of more energy infrastructure, cuts China out of our critical materials supply chains, and lowers costs across the board. All of this will ensure we build a better and more secure future in America.”

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman:

Energy security is national security. Republicans are delivering on our promises to the American people by unleashing the full power of our energy and minerals, cutting permitting delays, creating jobs, growing our economy, and dealing a blow to China and Russia. At long last, H.R. 1 will give Americans the tools to tap into our resources and build stronger, more resilient communities than ever before. When families no longer have to worry about how they’ll afford to fill up their gas tanks or turn on a light switch, they have the necessary breathing room to invest in our economy…. We are taking back control, putting America first and unlocking access to the cleanest, safest energy production the world has ever seen.”

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves:

Addressing America’s ongoing energy crisis is one of the most important actions this Congress can take. The last thing we need is to be dependent on foreign energy, especially when we can produce and distribute energy here in the United States and maintain our environmental standards at the same time. This legislation will prevent federal water regulations from being hijacked and weaponized to block important energy projects, and I’m proud to have the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s work included as part of H.R. 1’s commonsense and comprehensive approach to solidifying our energy independence.”

Final Comment

H.R. 1 can be characterized as pro-free market and deregulatory. But it is only a start. Free market reforms will ultimately require repealing dusty old federal laws from the New Deal (Public Utility Holding Company Act; Federal Power Act; Natural Gas Act;) and laws before and after. The U.S. Department of Energy needs to be abolished with its non-civilian functions transferred to other agencies. At the same time, numerous states should implement free market reforms by repealing and amending laws. And last but not least, the United States should withdraw from the (failed) Paris Climate Accord to reverse the international pressure for anti-energy policies.

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