Affordable energy is essential for economic growth and the well-being of American families. To help make energy more affordable—and create jobs in the process—Congress should enact a comprehensive, all-of-the-above national energy policy.
To ease the pain at the pump and at the electric meter—and to free our nation from dependence on foreign oil—we must work toward energy independence. We must develop new supplies of American energy, including oil, natural gas, and coal. That means exploring for oil in Alaska, on the Outer Continental Shelf and in shale formations in the West. We should encourage the development of technologies that allow us to use our vast supply of coal in a more environmentally-responsible manner. And we should continue to develop our massive natural gas reserves.
We must also develop and deploy alternative energy sources and technologies including wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy. Reliable, emission-free nuclear power must also be part of the equation, and we should work to dispose of waste through a central disposal site or by reprocessing.
Obtaining energy independence is a key component to economic recovery. Click here to learn basic ways you can conserve energy and reduce your energy bills at home.
EPA’s Clean Power Plan
I am adamantly opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which proposes existing coal-powered plants reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030. This approach to curbing emissions is so unpopular with Congress and the American people that the president couldn’t get a Democrat-controlled House and Senate to pass a similar plan back in 2009.
On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court granted a stay on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, effectively halting its implementation. This is clear evidence that the EPA has gone outside of its regulatory authority and the scope of the Clean Air Act. While I believe that we should be good stewards of the environment, this plan will do more harm than good. President Obama’s proposal won't just affect the coal industry—consumers also lose. Some studies predict that there will be double-digit electricity rate hikes in 43 states, with 14 states seeing increases of more than 20 percent. At a time when many are still struggling to make ends meet, it's reckless to push policies that will burden families with higher electric bills. In Tennessee, 34 percent of families live below the poverty line. These families spend roughly 22 percent of their income on energy. They are the ones who will be left behind by this plan.
For these reasons, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act, and voted for this legislation when it passed the House on June 24, 2015 by a vote of 247 to 180. H.R. 2042 would extend the deadline for mandatory compliance with the Clean Power Plan rules, while also allowing state governors to refuse compliance with the rules if they are found to have an adverse effect on the state’s ratepayers or electricity system.
As a member of the Congressional Coal Caucus and the House Energy Action Team, I will continue to closely monitor these issues and to work to find the right balance between environmental responsibility and energy independence.
In an effort to penalize those who use carbon-intensive energy, particularly coal, some in Congress are trying to enact a so-called “cap-and-tax” system or a national carbon tax to lower greenhouse gas emissions. You can be certain that I will be outspoken in my opposition to this proposal. A national energy tax would devastate our economy, raising consumers’ energy bills and making everything produced in the United States more expensive, thus reducing our global competitiveness. This will cost American jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector and I won’t stand idly by and watch it happen.
I strongly support construction of the Keystone Pipeline and voted in support of H.R. 3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, when it passed the House on January 6, 2015. Unfortunately, President Obama vetoed the companion Senate legislation, S. 1, and the Senate failed to override the veto. The Keystone Pipeline has strong bipartisan support and would help reduce our dependence on oil from unstable countries while creating thousands of jobs. Widespread support for the pipeline combined with the State Department’s assessment that proved the project to be environmentally sound should pave the way for construction of this important project. I am disappointed the president is holding back our country’s economic growth by blocking the pipeline from moving move forward.
Renewable Fuel Standard
At a time when the United States is producing more oil and natural gas than any previous point in its history, maintaining the misguided and overly restrictive renewable fuel standard that requires certain levels of biofuels to be mixed with petroleum fuel is expensive and causes more problems than it is claimed to solve.
Food costs have increased since farmers are growing corn for ethanol rather than for consumption and it has also increased pollution because biofuel production is quite carbon-intensive.
Given the restrictive nature of the renewable fuel standard, the increased costs of food and the lack of a proven environmental benefit, we need to roll back this failed experiment and focus more on addressing consumption habits and continue tapping into the abundant resources we already have available.