The Lower Energy Costs Act: Implications and Debates Through a Climate Lens
Updated: May 27
Public Domain Pictures.
A few weeks ago, a House resolution was passed that “lowers energy bill costs” by the GOP. Although supporters argue that this resolution “expedites the development, importation, and exportation of energy resources” for everyone, they ignore the communities affected by environmental injustice while furthering the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels. Is this truly a step towards energy for all, or is it just a masquerade that protects Big Oil’s wishlist?
Oil for All?
H.Res.1 wave extensive review of energy sourcing, eliminates market restrictions on the importation and exportation of oil and natural gasses, and prohibits government involvement that may impact the price of energy and federal lands. On the surface, this resolution appears to be able to quell the fear of rising oil prices due to potential government intervention. Due to the rising price of energy, many have been hit extremely hard and are not able to keep up with their energy bills. Republicans claim that this rise in pricing has been at the Federal law’s fault due to the misuse of environmentally friendly policy. They claim that by banning regulation on Big Oil efforts, consumer freedom is increased and access to energy is widened. Asserting that Biden has and will set regulations banning the use of gas, they state that "Bureaucrats have used it [pre-existing regulations] to bypass property rights and delay projects, killing jobs, driving up costs, and hurting the economy" (De La Cruz and Garza). Yet, if the Lower Energy Costs Act is passed federally, energy freedom is not guaranteed. While Big Oil companies race to exploit new wells, corporate greed may very well maintain the high prices of oil observed today. Meanwhile, clean energy such as wind and solar, which have become cheaper than ever, are pushed to the side.
A Flaky Climate Centerpiece
Supporters of this resolution set climate change as the backbone of their initiative, even though the crisis has never been a political priority up until now. Through permitting reform, Republicans believe that this can help elevate clean energy initiatives. However, how will clean energy rise above fossil fuels without a catalyst? This argument implies that clean energy will be the first on the to-do lists for energy companies across the nation after the resolution’s passing. In fact, with H.Res.1, President Joe Biden will be forced to flash a green light for additional oil drilling leases, fracking initiatives, and pipeline constructions. Biden will also not be able to monetarily incentivize clean energy and securely decrease the price of energy. To top it off, Conservatives from the Conservative Climate Caucus, big supporters of this resolution, are not only neglecting this conflict of interest but are highly hypocritical—generating tens of thousands of dollars from Big Oil sponsors a year (Aronoff). This climate change backbone appears to be more of an afterthought, if not a mirage that attempts to piggyback off of recent climate hype.
Rusty pumpjack at work in an industrial area of Long Beach, California. Public Domain Pictures.
What the GOP is Advocating for
The reality of H.Res.1 is that energy prices will not go down. It is an anti-conservation act that undermines the current progress of sustainable policies and feeds the satisfaction of the fossil fuel company. Lousiana Congressman Steve Scalise, who has been the bill’s lead sponsor, states that “For the last two years, President Biden and his extremist friends in Washington have waged a war on American energy, and hard-working families across the country are paying the price” (Aronoff). But if this resolution is implemented and the fossil fuel industry continues to grow, the price will be paid back in blood through the coming decades. After excessive mining and hitting irreversible ecosystem tipping points, wildlife species will continue to die off and existing habitats will be gutted. Moreover, communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change will suffer powerlessly, with cancer and asthma rates already rising to over 19% and 39% respectively (CDC, Bose et al.). As if that isn’t enough, visitor experience and safety when traveling to national recreation sites will drastically worsen with the 37,050 mining sites Big Oil has abandoned without remedial action addressing human health impacts (Olsen and Hart).
Let us not rush to see the flaws in our system today just to jump toward a more detrimental proposal. In order to better evaluate H.Res.1’s efficiency in lowering the cost of energy, everyone should be considered—not just the GOP and the fossil fuel industry. And let those who are hoping for an energy-abundant future carefully consider who are the actors on this stage before jumping onto this misleading energy package.
Why the Republicans’ “Lower Energy Costs Act” Won’t Lower Energy Costs | The New Republic (Aronoff)
When Health Disparities Hit Home: Redlining Practices, Air Pollution, and Asthma | American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (Bose et al.)
Neighborhood-level redlining and lending bias are associated with breast cancer mortality in a large and diverse metropolitan area (CDC)
HR 1 would help Hispanics meet the challenges of high energy prices and a sluggish economy (De La Cruz and Garza)
House passes sweeping GOP energy policy bill | CNN Politics (Foran and Wilson)
5 Reasons the ‘Lower Energy Costs Act’ Is a Bad Idea (Olsen and Hart)
Kevin McCarthy's first legislative farce: The "Lower Energy Costs Act" is a fossil-fuel scam (Pope)
H.R.1 - 118th Congress (2023-2024): Lower Energy Costs Act (U.S. Congress)