Republican Lawmakers Unveil Sweeping Energy Bill

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Republican lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have introduced a sweeping energy bill that is expected to get a vote by the end of the month. As a starting point for negotiations with the Senate on a much-discussed permitting bill, however, the legislation falls short of the reforms that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) advocated last week at the CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston.

The 174-page legislation — introduced as H.R. 1 on Tuesday but known as the Lower Energy Costs Act — cobbles together bills that were introduced earlier this year in the House Energy Commerce Committee and the committees on transportation, infrastructure and natural resources.

It includes many long-endorsed Republican platforms such as eliminating the methane “charge” for excessive emissions from oil and gas operations, which passed last year; amending federal water laws to make it harder for blue states to block large pipeline projects; easing the pathways for approvals of LNG facilities and natural gas pipelines; and resolutions disavowing the Biden administration’s vacatur of a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and any restrictions on oil or product exports.

On permitting, the legislation adopts a bill introduced this year by Rep. Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) that includes broad reforms of the National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa) to streamline approvals of large energy infrastructure projects. Those include a mechanism by which agencies can bypass Nepa reviews for certain types of projects; tighter parameters around when and how litigation can be filed over environmental reviews; and easier right-of-way approvals for energy projects, among other measures.

Lengthy permitting processes, which can often involve multiple local, state and federal agencies, have long plagued energy projects. Biden administration officials have stressed the importance of enacting permitting reform to the clean energy transition.

However, Manchin’s permitting bill failed last year following Republican ire over his support of the Inflation Reduction Act, which included hefty climate spending and other Democratic priorities. Speaking to reporters during CERAWeek, Manchin said he wanted to see a bill introduced in the House first, but cautioned that he'd "like to have it by itself, a separate bill, not wrapped into a major energy bill that reforms everything again."

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