WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday predicted a rough road for House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s sweeping legislation to spur energy production, but said Democrats and Republicans in both chambers already are talking compromise.
“House Republicans rolled out a partisan, dead-on-arrival proposal to address America’s energy needs,” Schumer, D-Brooklyn, New York, said during a brief press conference. “H.R. 1 will lock America into the most dirty, expensive and volatile sources of energy.”
Scalise, R-Jefferson, said earlier Wednesday on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria” that the bill’s fate depends on whether it gets a full airing. “If the public gets engaged in this issue, like they are on crime, I think we have a chance of getting this done. But it starts with passing it in the House and having a full debate.”
Scalise, who is in charge of the House calendar, says the full House will vote on the 175-page Lower Energy Costs Act, H.R. 1, during the last week of March. Since Republicans hold the majority in the House, H.R.1 is expected to pass and advance to the U.S. Senate, which has a Democratic majority.
Lower Energy Costs Act, H.R. 1,
Sponsored by Scalise and three House committee chairs, H.R. 1 is an amalgamation of a dozen different bills aimed at increasing oil and gas production. It is House Republicans’ No. 1 priority this congressional session.
The legislation would require offshore lease sales; streamline permitting processes; incentivize building more infrastructure, such as pipelines; and roll back power of states to reject energy facilities. It would also repeal higher fees in the Inflation Reduction Act and some of the law’s other climate change initiatives. Finally, the Scalise bill would increase state shares of the federal government’s royalties for offshore oil and gas production and wind farms.
If approved, Louisiana could receive about $2 billion more per year in revenues.
Scalise blamed Biden’s policies to curtail fossil fuel production – an attempt to slow carbon-caused global warming – as a key reason for higher gas, electricity and food prices. Many renewable fuels, such as wind and solar, “aren’t ready for prime time,” he added.
Schumer said Scalise’s efforts amounted to “a wish list for big oil” companies that have fought for decades to get rid of costly environmental safeguards.
But the head of the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate also faulted H.R. 1 for not doing enough to revamp permitting to get clean energy projects online faster, or to build transmission that would move energy from its source to customers.
Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate are discussing compromises that move the legislation forward, he said.
“We need a bipartisan, bicameral effort on permitting reform. And I would do everything I can to get that to happen,” Schumer said.
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