White House Vows to Veto House Republican’s Pro-Fossil Fuel Energy Package
White House Vows to Veto House Republican’s Pro-Fossil Fuel Energy Package

By Bill Pan

The White House is threatening to veto the House Republicans’ pro-fossil-fuel legislative package that defies President Joe Biden’s progressive climate-focused agenda.

The 175-page bill, known as the Lower Energy Costs Act and given the symbolic priority of H.R. 1, is heading to a vote later this week.

The package includes measures that would, among many other things, streamline the environmental review process for energy infrastructure projects, require more onshore oil lease sales, give greater access to public lands and waters for oil and gas drilling, and ban foreign companies with a known record of human rights violations from mining on federal lands.

In a statement released on Monday, the White House confirmed that Biden will kill the bill if it ever makes it to his desk.

“H.R. 1 would take us backward. Therefore, if presented to the President in its current form, he would veto it,” the White House said in the statement.

Specifically, the White House claimed that the proposed energy package would enrich oil and gas companies at the expense of public health and the environment.

“H.R. 1 would double the cost of energy efficiency upgrades that families need to reduce household bills and would repeal the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund that will cut energy costs and boost economic development in rural and urban communities across the country,” the White House argued, referring to the plan to set aside $20 billion in funding for so-called “green banks” and $7 billion to subsidize efforts by state and local governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in low-income areas.

Republicans have been fighting to repeal the $27 billion initiative since its announcement in February. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, called it an example of the “reckless spending provisions included in the Democrats’ partisan rush-to-green reconciliation package.”

The White House also took issue with the proposed changes to some key environmental laws, which Democrat-led states have cited to block fossil fuel infrastructure like gas pipelines and coal export terminals.

“H.R. 1 would also empower big companies to skirt the Clean Air Act by lifting pollution control requirements, weaken emissions requirements and worker protection for refineries using toxic chemicals, modify requirements under the bipartisan Toxic Substances Control Act for determining the safety of chemicals used in the energy sector, and repeal $1.5 billion in investments focused on curbing methane leaks that harm surrounding communities,” the statement continued.

Over the past few months, the package has moved forward rapidly through the House Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources, and Transportation and Infrastructure committees. It is expected to pass the Republican-controlled House, but is unlikely to survive the Senate, where Democrats maintain a slim 51–49 majority.

“It’s a non-starter in the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said earlier this month, calling the bill a “partisan, dead-on-arrival and unserious proposal.”

“The only way we will pass a genuine energy package this Congress is through bipartisan cooperation,” Schumer said. “I’m glad that there are good faith talks underway right now between both parties in both houses to figure out what sort of permitting deal is possible.”

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