For the 114th Congress, 2015 could be the year of energy. New faces on Capitol Hill pave the way for Congress to support pro-market energy policies that languished in legislative purgatory under former Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees Harry Reid knocks Ocasio-Cortez's tax proposal: Fast 'radical change' doesn't work Overnight Defense: Trump rejects Graham call to end shutdown | Coast Guard on track to miss Tuesday paychecks | Dems eye Trump, Russia probes | Trump talks with Erdogan after making threat to Turkey's economy MORE (D-Nev.).

As its first order of business, the new Congress has taken up the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline deserves swift approval, but it is just one of many energy issues that will fill up the congressional calendar in the coming months.


That’s why the American Energy Alliance last week launched the American Energy Scorecard, the first and only free-market congressional energy accountability scorecard.

Our scorecard empowers Americans to hold their elected leaders accountable for the decisions they make in Washington with respect to energy policy. It helps voters answer the question: do my elected representatives support policies that promote affordable, abundant, and reliable energy, or are they standing in the way?

One of the best ways for the new Congress to embrace energy prosperity would be to take on President Obama’s climate agenda. Committee chairs have promised hearings on EPA’s carbon dioxide rule for existing power plants, which could cause double-digit electricity rate hikes in 43 states while reducing sea-level rise by just 1/100th of an inch—the thickness of three sheets of paper.

But this rhetoric must be backed up with action. Whether Congress follows up its oversight with real legislative action is yet to be seen.

One issue Congress has shown little willingness to act on is wind-industry subsidies. The wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) expired at the end of 2013, but was retroactively extended for 2014 year during last month’s lame-duck session.

The wind PTC is expected to cost taxpayers about $6 billion over the next decade. In return, taxpayers get an energy source that drives up families’ electric bills and can’t be relied upon to work when it is needed.

Wind lobbyists are already roaming the halls in search of votes to keep their lavish taxpayer handout alive. Time will tell whether Congress finally lets the wind PTC fly away. 

In addition to ending corporate wind welfare, lawmakers have an opportunity to finally scrap the outdated ban on oil exports. Lifting the decades-old ban would be a triple win: it would lower gasoline prices for families, allow domestic producers to fetch higher oil prices in new markets, and boost economic activity across the board.

Lawmakers can also make good on their promise to fix our intrinsically flawed ethanol mandate. There has long been bipartisan support for repealing or reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard, which makes gasoline more expensive and mucks up vehicle engines. Will Congress seize the moment?

Although the new Congress has many opportunities to advance pro-energy policies, it must also fend off threats to those opportunities. For instance, EPA’s newly released ozone and methane rules will lead to higher energy costs for American families with virtually no environmental benefit.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s coterie of climate warriors—led by Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem calls for Cohen to testify before Senate panel over explosive report Speculation swirls over candidates to succeed Rosenstein Overnight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans MORE—have promised to dust-off their tired playbook of carbon taxes and green-energy giveaways.

Until now, groups like the League of Conservation Voters were the only ones keeping close score of the top energy and environmental issues. That one-sided accounting does a disservice to the American people, especially in their pocketbooks.

An alternative is long overdue. With the 114th Congress underway, AEA will use its new scorecard, among other tools, to advance free-market energy policies and to hold lawmakers accountable for their actions. Let’s make 2015 a year of energy prosperity.

Pyle is president of the American Energy Alliance, a nonprofit which receives funding from the oil industry among others.