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    US Republican bill seeks to empower states with energy decisions

Summary

The bill follows a Supreme Court decision that says the federal government can trump state sovereignty claims.

by: Daniel Graeber

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US Republican bill seeks to empower states with energy decisions

Members of the Republican party on a congressional natural resources committee introduced legislation July 1 that would give individual states the power to manage their own energy developments.

Bruce Westerman, a state representative for Arkansas, and Steve Scalise of Louisiana introduced the American Energy First Act, a measure that would empower states to manage energy developments within their own borders.

“It’s essential legislation that ensures economic growth and domestic energy security by empowering states to manage their energy resources, both conventional and renewable, ensuring everyone has equal access to reliable, affordable energy,” Westerman said

The Republican members of the US House of Representatives have argued for much of the presidency of Joe Biden that his policies undermine energy security. Republican-favoured projects such as the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada have been negated in Biden’s term and the government enacted a pause on new drilling on federal lands.

That moratorium impacts states differently. There are no federal lands in Texas, for example, while neighbouring New Mexico has significant amounts of federal acreage.

"For decades, America has been a world leader in energy production and exploration by embracing an all-of-the-above energy strategy, yet due to president Biden’s disastrous policies, we have witnessed an all-out assault on American energy that jeopardises our security," Scalise said. 

The federal moratorium only limits new drilling, not existing operations. Companies working in the US oil and gas sector, meanwhile, are exercising production restraint in an effort to capitalise on soaring commodity prices. Spot prices for natural gas, liquefied natural gas and crude oil are all at multi-year highs due to mounting supply-side pressures.

The tabling of the Republican bill follows a Supreme Court decision that overturned objections to a natural gas pipeline from the state of New Jersey. In his written opinion, chief justice John Roberts argued that the federal government has a long record of abrogating the sovereignty of individual states.

The Republican bill would need to go to various committees and both chambers of congress before it would reach president Biden’s desk for final consent.