Sen. Cruz takes on the 'regulatory state' with sweeping energy bill

Sen. Ted Cruz on Monday detailed a plan to expand domestic energy production by beating back a slate of Obama administration regulations that he says are standing in the way of a national oil and gas boom.

Decrying U.S. energy policy as stuck in the 1970s, the Texas Republican laid out the major points of sweeping legislation he is preparing to introduce in the coming weeks.

The plan is a medley of several existing proposals championed by congressional Republicans and the energy industry, and contains provisions that would block forthcoming federal regulations on hydraulic and power plants.

It would also require approval from Congress for the most costly government rules.

“Part of the reason we see this out-of-control regulatory state is that Congress has outsourced its responsibilities — has handed it to unaccountable regulators who don’t actually have to see the American people,” Cruz said during remarks to the Heritage Action for America's Conservative Policy Summit.

Cruz, who is said to be angling for a possible presidential run, has devoted much of his time to gun rights and healthcare issues. In pivoting to energy, the conservative firebrand is expanding his policy portfolio.

The senator's plan, which he’s dubbed the American Energy Renaissance Act, culls from an existing laundry list of GOP priorities. For instance, it calls for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Green groups staunchly oppose the $5.4 billion Canada-to-Texas pipeline, though Cruz said the alternatives — including greater reliance on shipments of oil from overseas — could be worse for the environment.

“If you are a Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging Greenpeace activist, you should love the Keystone pipeline,” he said.

Other provisions include measures aimed at increasing gas production, both offshore and on federal lands, ending the ban on crude exports, scaling back restrictions on overseas coal shipments and expanding exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“The bureaucratic paperwork to export LNG has been mind-numbingly slow,” he said.

Cruz’s plan, however, goes further than some other proposals, as he is calling for an outright stop to federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

Under the legislation, increased federal revenue from expanded energy reduction would be placed in a trust fund to help pay down the federal debt.

“This opportunity is right in front of us, if the fed government will simply listen to the American people,” he said.