WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - The House Republicans will vote on a massive energy package to reverse virtually all the climate change initiatives of Vice President Joe Biden.
The GOP's massive bill, which is up for vote on Thursday, would increase the production of coal, oil and natural gas in the United States and remove permitting restrictions, which delay projects such as refineries, pipelines and other infrastructure. The bill would also boost the production of minerals like lithium, nickel, and cobalt, which are essential for products such as computers, cellphones, and electric vehicles.
The bill is referred to by Republicans as the Lower Energy Costs Act and has been given the symbol H.R. The top legislative priority for the new GOP majority that took control of Congress in January is H.R. This measure, which is a combination of dozens of proposals, represents two years' worth of work from Republicans who have been irritated by Biden’s environmental agenda. Biden's efforts, they say, have hindered U.S. energy and raised prices at the grocery store and gas station.
"Families are suffering because of President Biden’s war on American Energy," said House Majority leader Steve Scalise (R-La. ), one of the main authors of the bill. We have too much energy in America to rely on hostile countries and pay high prices at the pump.
Scalise said that the GOP bill would 'unleash these resources so that we can produce energy here in America'. We don't need to depend on foreign countries who don't want us.
Democrats called it a gift to the big oil companies.
"Republicans refuses to hold polluters responsible for the damage that they cause to air, water, communities and climate'', said New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone. He is the top Democrat in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Pallone stated that Republicans actively work to undermine the progress made by Democrats and their polluter allies.
Biden has threatened to veto the energy bill if it reaches his desk, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called it 'dead on arrival' in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that the GOP bill "restores American leadership in energy by repealing unnecessary taxation and overregulation of American energy producers" and "makes things easier to build in America" by putting a time limit of two years on environmental reviews, which currently take on average seven years.
McCarthy stated in a speech to the House that 'every time we need to build a pipeline or road, the process takes five to seven more years, and costs millions to complete. It's too expensive, unaffordable and not based on scientific principles.
He cited a project in his district of central California to modify and upgrade the Lake Isabella Dam that has been ongoing for 18 years, but is still not complete.
McCarthy said that 'permitting reform may not be for everyone'. If you want to pay more for gas, you won't want American workers to be able to build pipelines faster. China would rather America let other countries lead. If you are a bureaucrat you may enjoy the 600-page studies on environmental impact.
McCarthy said that most Americans wanted lower prices and increased U.S. production of energy -- which he claimed the bill would deliver.
Democrats criticized the GOP's plan as misleading, and argued that it was an attempt to reward oil companies, and other energy producers who have donated millions of dollars to GOP campaign.
Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the top Democrat in the House Natural Resources Committee, called the bill the 'Polluters Over People Act,'' and a 'nearly 200-page love note to polluting industry.''
Grijalva stated that the GOP bill does not aim to rein in "Big Oil" companies who have made record profits and 'hoarded thousands of leases on public waters and lands', but instead lowers royalty payments by energy producers. It also reinstates noncompetitive public land leasing.
He said that the bill gives mining companies "a veritable free for all on our public land" and "makes mockery' of tribal consultation required by federal law.
Grijalva stated that under the GOP plan mining companies would 'destroy sacred and special places' throughout the West. They will "ruin landscapes and leave a toxic mess behind them, which pollutes water and harms our health, all without paying any money to the American people.
Schumer said that the measure was a 'giveaway to Big Oil, pretending to look like an energy package'
Schumer stated that the House energy package would 'gut important environmental safeguards for fossil fuel projects'. This would lock America into "expensive, erratic, and dirty energy resources while setting us further back than a decade in our transition to cleaner energy'.
Schumer supports streamlining America's cumbersome permit process, particularly for projects that deliver 'clean' energy such as geothermal, solar, and wind power. He said that the Republican plan also falls short in this area. He called on Republicans to support reforms to ease the transition to clean energy and to accelerate the construction of transmission lines.