“What are we getting in return? We’re getting more dependence on the worst polluters in the world while we wreck our own economy, sending our wealth and jobs overseas,” said Representative Bruce Westerman, Republican of Arkansas and the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, who co-sponsored the bill. “House Republicans are ready to show the world that American energy — not Saudi Arabian, not Venezuelan, not Chinese or Russian energy — American energy is our future.”
While Republicans argued that the legislation would lower energy costs, it would also cost taxpayers. It would reduce the royalties that oil and gas companies have to pay to drill on federal lands, while repealing a section of the 2022 climate change law, also known as the Inflation Reduction Act, that forced oil and gas companies to pay a fee on emissions of planet-warming methane gas. It would also eliminate some other climate programs from that law, including funds for energy efficiency improvements in buildings and a federal fund for greenhouse gas reduction.
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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday that the bill would increase the deficit by $430 million. Mr. McCarthy has insisted the opposite, telling Mr. Biden in a letter on Tuesday that Republicans were advancing “measures to lower energy costs” that would also save the government money, helping to address the debt limit.
Democrats, who have nicknamed the bill the Polluters Over People Act, argued that it would promote the production of dirty forms of energy. They called the move to reduce royalties and eliminate interest fees a giveaway to fossil fuel producers.
“The central argument and logic of this bill is that if you give Big Oil everything they want, then perhaps they will lower our gas prices,” said Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York. “It’s a form of trickle-down fantasy that just will not make life easier for everyday Americans.”
Democrats also raised concerns about a provision aimed at streamlining the permitting of oil and gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure. It would change the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which requires federal agencies to review the environmental effects of their proposals before construction begins, setting a higher bar for denying such projects.
It would also reclassify what types of activities would be subject to high levels of environmental review, loosen requirements for repair and maintenance of electric grid infrastructure and for some activities around oil and gas drilling sites, and for the first time create deadlines for environmental reviews.