GOP Energy Agenda 2023: Push Fossil Fuels, Seek ‘The Next Solyndra’

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In interviews, people familiar with Republican priorities said he would focus on voter frustrations with gas prices, which surged last year amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. and the rebound of the global economy after the pandemic.

“Whatever big initiatives they have, they will be focused on tackling inflation and energy costs,” said George David Banks, an outside energy adviser to the Republicans who was the top international energy adviser. of former President Donald Trump. “It’s the smart political move if you’re trying to build momentum, and more of a majority in the next election and trying to reclaim the White House.”

Biden and Democratic lawmakers such as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin still hope to pass permitting legislation this year that would facilitate approvals for oil and gas infrastructure as well as clean energy sources like wind and solar. Republicans have called the Democratic plan too modest, and their own expected legislative push will focus on measures to reduce environmental reviews for all types of energy projects, speed up approvals for oil pipelines and export terminals from natural gas, as well as mining to produce critical minerals used in electric vehicles and the uranium fuel that powers nuclear reactors.

Year-end clearance from long-term Democrats and Republicans’ appetite for updating those rules when they’re likely to take control of the hammers could help both sides, says a former Republican legislative aide. to conclude an agreement at the next Congress. .

“The exercise sets the stage for a compromise early next year,” said Alex Herrgott, president and CEO of the nonprofit Permitting Institute, who was a senior Sen executive. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and who provided technical advice to congressional staffers working on permits.

Republicans say the Manchin proposal, or any similar compromise that may emerge in the final months of this year, does not go far enough to change the National Environmental Policy Act, the basic environmental law first passed in 1970. , which they see as an obstacle. building energy infrastructure.

A senior House GOP policy adviser has acknowledged that Republicans’ authorization legislation — inspired by a sweeping NEPA overhaul bill introduced in 2020 by Rep. Attic graves (R-La.) — would be a starting point for negotiations with congressional Democrats and Biden.

“You want to negotiate from a position of strength, not weakness,” the senior House GOP aide said in an interview. “We’re going to showcase our best stuff. That said, we are realistic about what the Senate looks like.

House Republicans also plan to examine how the Biden administration is rolling out the $370 billion in clean energy measures that Congress has approved in Democrats. Inflation Reduction Act — though this GOP effort could risk undermining investments in energy upgrades that would benefit red states.

Republicans have argued that Democrats’ climate policies have fueled inflation by slowing oil and gas production — even as production of both has increased under Biden.

But despite being heavily favored to take the House in the November election, Republicans may struggle to push through legislation even in a scenario where they also take control of the Senate. Any GOP majority in the Senate would likely fall well short of the 60 votes needed to defeat Democratic opposition, and Biden would be prepared to veto anything that undermines his agenda.

That means Republicans are unlikely to pursue more ambitious ideas, such as repealing the sprawling set of clean energy development and manufacturing tax credits that form the centerpiece of the US climate law. democrats. Any bills that make it through Congress are likely to be limited to smaller measures with bipartisan support.

“There is a very narrow window to move anything. It will be unavoidable or significantly bipartisan,” said Christopher Guith, senior vice president of the Global Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Republican House’s senior policy adviser has identified measures to boost nuclear power and the extraction of critical minerals as potential areas of compromise with Democrats. The person added that House Republicans’ initial permit-focused energy package won’t be their only attempt to push policy forward.

Democrats, however, fear that even if Republicans take control of just one house of Congress, they could still inflict significant damage on the gains Biden’s party has made to advance the president’s climate agenda. Biden is seeking to halve US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and put the country on a path to net zero emissions by mid-century.

“My concern is that a lot of resources are going to be used to push back [GOP] political attacks versus resources and focus to implement these historic laws,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) in an interview.

Republicans acknowledge they don’t feel like untying key clean energy tax credits from the climate bill. Industry advocates say these credits provide long-term certainty for renewable energy sources and emerging carbon-free technologies which have gained popularity in GOP-led states.

“Once these things are done and authorized and built in Republican states and districts, the enthusiasm for repeal becomes very difficult,” the senator said. Kevin Cramer (RN.D.) said in an interview.

Instead, Republicans should focus on monitoring spending stemming from climate and infrastructure laws. Already, GOP lawmakers have issued statements raising concerns about the implementation of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program, which received billions in new funding and powers, and questioning the chain of supply of renewable energy sources, which will also be enhanced under the law.

Washington representative Cathy McMorrisRodgerswho is on course to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee if the GOP wins a majority, called the influx of loan approvals into the DOE’s loan guarantee program “Solyndra on steroids.”

She was referring to the solar company which collapsed in 2011 after receiving more than $500 million in federal loan guarantees, sparking years of Republican attacks on the Obama administration’s clean energy programs. Democrats countered that despite his demise, Solyndra was just a small part of the $90 billion in clean energy initiatives that have spurred a huge expansion of wind, solar and other renewables in across the United States.

Former GOP Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, who was top energy and trade Republican before retiring last year, said his party had an obligation to rein in huge spending of the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Is it coming out in a timely manner and in the right places? You seek overbuilding and waste. You are essentially holding agencies and programs accountable before the law,” he said.

But Republicans will face a tricky balancing act, as government funding increasingly supports new types of energy projects in their own home states. The Biden administration’s loan program office, for example, has provided a conditional loan guarantee for a project in Nebraska that promises to convert natural gas to hydrogen, that companies are considering reducing the use of fossil fuels.

“It will be very interesting to see how Republicans balance the desire to investigate and find ‘the next Solyndra’ against the fact that Republican states and districts will disproportionately benefit from investing, building and creating jobs that come from what the Democrats just did via reconciliation,” said Colin Hayes, founding partner of lobbying boutique Lot Sixteen and former Republican staff director for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Upcoming Directions from the Treasury Department over how to implement the tax credit provisions of the Climate Act is also likely to put the Internal Revenue Service under greater scrutiny from Republicans.

Republicans, under the scrutiny of committee hammers, are also expected to investigate the Biden administration’s interactions with OPEC, which rejected calls from the United States and voted to cut production by 2 million barrels a day. Recently a member of the House Oversight and Reform ranking james comer (R-Ky.) led a letter with other Republicans on the Oversight Committee request documents and information regarding the administration’s potential plans to ban oil and gas exports, as well as the role of the Department of Energy in recent versions of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Republicans say they plan to shine a light on how the supply chain for batteries and other critical components for green energy technologies relies on countries whose human rights and environment are mediocre, including China. And the committees would also review the administration’s approach to national power generation, as well as companies’ adoption of so-called environmental, social and governance goals in their investment decisions, the people said. who spoke to POLITICO.

Comer said in a statement to POLITICO that Republicans would use their majority to conduct “rigorous oversight” of the Biden administration’s policies. These include the “cancellation” of the Keystone XL pipeline and efforts to restrict oil and gas leasing on federal lands, as well as ways the Securities and Exchange Commission is “advancing the president’s radical climate agenda.” Biden through regulations that could drive up the costs of goods and services for Americans. The SEC is seeking to impose rules requiring public companies to disclose their climate change risks.

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