The time is now for real energy reform

The time is now for real energy reform
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This Congress, things will be different. For the first time since 2007, Republicans maintain majorities in both the House and Senate and now control the White House. This rare opportunity increases the prospects for enacting reforms that build on our nation’s energy abundance, modernize our energy infrastructure, and promote domestic manufacturing and job growth — reforms that truly make a difference at the local level.

At the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we will ensure our reform efforts focus on the issues that matter most to consumers. We will pursue policies that will help increase the affordability, quality, and supply of the goods and services people use in their daily lives. This effort begins with energy, which fuels the great productive power of American enterprise.

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Under President Obama’s tenure, we saw a barrage of red-tape regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. These regulations impeded energy development, prematurely shuttered coal plants, delayed or blocked job-creating new projects, crippled innovation and stifled economic growth. Businesses and American ingenuity took a back seat to the Obama administration’s regulatory onslaught, and the American people suffered.

Though the cards were stacked against us, we still achieved bipartisan success last Congress. We were able to lift the nearly 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports, successfully lowering prices at the pump, increasing jobs, and strengthening our national security and geopolitical influence abroad. We overhauled our chemical safety laws for the first time in decades when Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act into law, marking the most meaningful update to issues involving environment and economy in decades. We also updated our pipeline safety laws in June 2016, providing greater regulatory certainty in the transportation of energy commodities. In 2015, the Fixing America’s Surfance Transportation Act was signed into law, which included provisions authored by the Energy and Commerce Committee that provided new authorities to address grid security emergencies.

Despite these successes, we always knew we could accomplish more with a like-minded administration. This Congress, we beat to a different drum. I’m excited to work with a president and administration that truly understands the importance of achieving energy independence and security. It’s past time for the federal government to stop picking winners and losers, putting the reliability of our energy supplies at risk and driving up costs for consumers.

We’re already seeing the benefits of having a Republican in the White House. President Trump just last week signed an executive order to expedite regulatory reviews and approvals for infrastructure projects and issued memoranda relating to the construction of the job-creating Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, as well as streamlining permitting and reducing regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturing. Actions speak louder than words, and it’s clear we’ve entered a new era.

With former Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) taking up the gavel at the energy subcommittee and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) leading the environment subcommittee, the Energy and Commerce Committee is primed to lead when it comes to ushering in a new era of American ingenuity that capitalizes on our energy abundance. I know they’ll effectively guide meaningful legislation through our committee.  

We’ve already had several bipartisan bills aimed at improving energy efficiency pass the House this Congress, and we are working to get several more across the finish line.

Under this leadership, we will focus our early efforts on energy infrastructure improvement, expansion, and regulatory reforms to energy and environmental statutes. We should recognize that it is through technological development, market-driven efficiencies and economic expansion that we can ensure conscientious stewardship of the environment while protecting consumer interests — and our regulations should reflect that. We will consider eliminating regulatory barriers to empower consumers to value low cost and transformative energy solutions.

For too long, the promises of modernized energy infrastructure were held back by the Obama administration’s Washington-centric regulatory and environmental agenda. It’s time we think bigger. It’s time we put consumers first. It’s time we bring greater transparency, accountability and predictability to our energy and environmental laws to meet the needs of consumers in the 21st century.  This Congress, things will be different.

Walden is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.