On March 30, the House of Representatives approved a sweeping energy package that could save the average American household thousands of dollars per year in energy expenses. This includes the costs of home heating and cooling, the fuel we pump into our cars, and the batteries that power our cellphones and computers.
The Lower Energy Costs Act, designated HR 1, would sharply increase domestic production of oil, natural gas and coal while easing permitting restrictions that delay pipelines, refineries and other projects — delays that sometimes stretch for more than a decade.
The measure would also boost the production of critical minerals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt that are used in electric vehicles, computers, cellphones, household appliances and other modern products.
By a 225-204 vote, the House sent the measure to the Democratic-controlled Senate. Obviously, the bill could fall prey to partisan politics and die, but Americans across all walks of life should hope that it doesn’t. Here’s why: Our current energy situation is a disaster.
Supply chains are still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and American families and businesses continue to struggle with inflated energy and commodity prices. The sky-high cost of energy represents a hidden tax that hurts all Americans, particularly those at the lower end of the economic ladder.
I believe that lowering the costs of energy for Americans is not only good economic policy but also a moral imperative for our nation’s leaders. According to one estimate, 16% of U.S. households experience energy poverty. These vulnerable households spend roughly 6% of household income on energy consumption needs. In addition, more than 5.2 million households above the federal poverty line also face hardship because of rising energy costs.
The measure attempts to streamline processes that impede, obfuscate or prevent our ability to develop hydrocarbons and renewable projects alike. It also clears a way for private industry to mine rare earth minerals that are desperately needed for national defense and tech innovation.
Finally, it reforms arguably one of the most arcane processes in modern government that have drifted far from the original legislative intent: the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
Delays in transportation projects, litigation against hydrocarbon development, and stymied construction of commercial nuclear energy facilities all come from the abuse of NEPA. There are those who exploit NEPA, often with little real regard for the environment, that are motivated to stop any kind of development, no matter how reasonable.
I volunteer with the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, a nonprofit policy research organization that seeks to expand economic opportunity to those who least have it, using the tools of individual liberty, free enterprise, technological innovation and pluralism.
We care deeply about the real-world impact of proposed policy measures on those most vulnerable in our society, and we seek out ways to unleash sustainable, market-oriented approaches to helping them.
That’s why we have studied the Lower Energy Costs Act so carefully. For a full analysis of why its provisions are so important, please see my published deep-dive analysis.
I am not naive about the rough and tumble of the political process. Indeed, you might say it has, in some ways, been the family business for me.
So, I get that the bill faces a tough road, but that road doesn’t have to be a dead end. While not every detail of the 200-page bill will pass, I genuinely believe there is a path forward for many of its main sections to become law.
Making that happen will take key leaders of both the House and Senate coming together to put the needs of the American people first.
And the key to making that happen is for the citizenry — especially those who want to do what’s best for working-class Americans — to let our representatives in Washington know they need to get serious about lowering energy cost burdens by supporting the energy bill.
To read the entire Washington Times article, please click here.