Farm Progress

Democrat-controlled Senate not expected to approve the legislation.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

March 30, 2023

2 Min Read
A row of electric power poles supplying electricity to rural area
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House Republicans have pushed through a bill they say would reduce energy costs and increase production. Four Democrats joined the 225-204 majority on the bill known as the Lower Energy Costs Act. The vote is largely symbolic as the bill appears to have little chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The vote gave Republicans an opportunity to highlight their energy priorities. They believe public opinion is on their side. According to a recent Gallop poll, only 38% of Americans support the Biden administration’s energy policies. House Agriculture Committee Chair GT Thompson, R-Pa., says that a vote for the bill is a vote for food security.

“Since day one of this Administration, our energy resources have been shackled, pipeline construction has ceased and new oil and gas leases on federal lands became nonexistent,” Thompson says. “President Biden’s war on clean, American energy production undoubtedly crippled the U.S. economy—leaving farmers, ranchers, producers, and consumers to pay the ultimate price.”

The Lower Energy Costs Act would limit the power of the President and executive branch agencies to restrict or delay the development of energy projects on federal land. Environmental review requirements would be relaxed, as would certain restrictions on oil and natural gas imports and exports. The President would be prohibited from declaring a moratorium on hydraulic fracking, and the Department of the Interior would be instructed to proceed with specified oil and gas projects on federal waters and lands.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., introduced the bill. He says it will combat higher gas prices, which he blames on the Biden administration’s energy policies and overreliance on foreign energy.

“There's no reason we should be getting energy from foreign countries when we can make it here cleaner, more efficient and at a dramatically lower cost than anywhere else in the world,” Scalise says. “This bill achieves that.”

As expected, most Democrats opposed the act. During the floor debate, Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D- N.J., called the bill “a joke.” According to him, it will not save Americans one dime in energy costs, but instead cost the country $2.4 billion according to a Congressional Budget Office report. He believes it will also lead to more water and air pollution

“It was Republican President Richard Nixon who started the Environmental Protection Agency,” Payne says. “Back then Republicans cared about the health and safety of the environment, and Americans. Clearly this bill shows they could care less about that.”

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About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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