- - Monday, May 1, 2017

American consumers deserve safe, secure and efficient energy that’s affordable and meets the needs of the 21st century economy. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has already begun work on a pro-domestic energy policy that will improve our nation’s energy infrastructure, create jobs and reduce energy bills, but much more needs to be done.

America’s energy landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade, and it’s time for Washington’s energy policy to change with it.

Our nation’s energy abundance combined with technological developments in the energy sector are presenting new challenges and opportunities in the manner in which we as a nation produce, generate, distribute and consume energy.

For too long, the federal government has stood in the way of the United States reaching its full energy potential. While energy production is at record levels, the nation’s aging energy infrastructure needs to be improved to ensure consumers around the country continue to receive energy in a safe, secure and efficient manner.

Additionally, many of the nation’s environmental laws are outdated, which impedes economic activity and growth. Onerous, red-tape regulations and permitting and siting delays had become commonplace under the previous administration.

Now we’ve started to usher in a new era — one that capitalizes on our energy abundance. The days of Washington knows best are over. It’s time the federal government stopped picking winners and losers. It’s time we enact reforms that build on our nation’s energy abundance, modernize our energy infrastructure, and promote domestic manufacturing and job growth.

Thankfully, the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Energy and Environment subcommittees have already been hard at work examining ways in which we can take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to enact meaningful reforms.

The Energy Subcommittee has explored opportunities to improve the nation’s economic competitiveness by examining the state of America’s evolving energy infrastructure. For too long, pipeline permitting and hydropower approvals were mired in bureaucratic red tape that stymied economic growth, innovation and jobs. Multiyear federal permitting delays have become the norm for pipelines, transmission lines, and projects needed to keep up with our growing production of domestic oil and natural gas.

Thankfully, President Trump and his administration have already started to roll back the red tape. Earlier this year, President Trump issued an executive order to speed up the regulatory review process for infrastructure projects, which finally green-lighted important job-creating projects like the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

Looking forward, the subcommittee will look at ways to legislatively encourage infrastructure improvement and expansion. This includes considering potential Federal Energy Regulatory Commission process reforms to bring greater transparency and accountability to the approval process for natural gas pipelines, permits and other approvals needed for hydropower projects.

The Federal Power Act was enacted when Franklin Roosevelt was president and most of the country lacked access to electricity. It’s way past time for a review to this law. Electricity in the United States is experiencing an unprecedented set of changes driven by technological innovation, environmental regulations and mandates, and subsidies at the federal and state levels. The Energy Subcommittee has already started its long-term review of the nation’s electricity system and power markets.

The Environment Subcommittee has already taken a look at the challenges and opportunities for modernizing our environmental laws to expand infrastructure and promote manufacturing. The subcommittee has reviewed important legislation to provide states flexibility when it comes to implementing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for ground-level ozone. H.R. 806, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, would make commonsense, targeted reforms to the Clean Air Act to provide states and local authorities the time and flexibility to implement new air quality standards in an orderly and effective manner.

This allows states to focus on public health rather than wasting resources keeping pace with waves of new and ineffective planning requirements. This simple piece of legislation would boost manufacturing and ensure job growth in many areas across the country.

Additionally, the subcommittee has examined legislation related to Brownfields reauthorization. Brownfields are often abandoned, closed or underutilized industrial or commercial facilities that have the potential to encourage economic development through the EPA’s Brownfields Program. This program is vital to states and local communities across the country and will be an issue of great importance to the subcommittee moving forward.

While these are just some of the many issues that fall under the committee’s broad jurisdiction, much work remains to be done.

This Congress will be a busy one as we work to modernize our dated energy infrastructure and environmental laws. We will continue to strive and fight for consumers across the country to ensure they continue to have access to affordable and reliable energy.

We’re for an all-of-the-above approach when it comes to energy policy. We want jobs, infrastructure improvements and energy production, but we also want to ensure we remain good stewards of the environment. These issues don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We stand ready to roll up our sleeves and work to capitalize on our energy abundance.

Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon Republican, is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy, and Rep. John Shimkus, Illinois Republican, is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment.

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