The U.S. House of Representatives took a major step yesterday towards modernizing the nation’s energy policy with the passage of the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act (H.R. 8). This legislation, which was the result of a broader energy vision constructed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee entitled “Architecture of Abundance,” has a goal of ensuring America’s ability to take full advantage of its energy potential and leverage it to bring about clean, affordable, and reliable energy while also stimulating job growth and reducing America’s dependence on foreign sources for energy. It does this by addressing the regulatory red tape that has existed for decades in four main areas: modern infrastructure, a 21st Century energy workforce, energy diplomacy, and efficiency and accountability.
The bipartisan passage of H.R. 8 signifies a necessary and overdue step in solidifying America’s top spot on the world’s energy producing stage. One important provision contained in this bill is the lifting of the ban on crude oil exports. This is an issue of great importance to labor and the manufacturing industry due to the opportunity it presents for spurring jobs and economic growth from the added domestic production. However, the removal of the longtime export ban is unpopular with the Administration and could spark a veto threat in the end. H.R. 8 also contains key provisions for improving energy efficiency for new and renovated federal buildings by allowing utilities to provide them fossil-fuel generated electricity, and for speeding up the siting and permitting process for infrastructure projects. All of this plays a major role in job creation.
The Senate is expected to reconcile H.R. 8 with the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee’s version of energy reform sometime in 2016. Strong support is needed in order to protect those job growth and affordable energy provisions in H.R. 8 that are important to the American people. A collective voice to your Senators as they work to come up with compromise language will help ensure that these provisions remain in the final version of energy reform legislation.
Given the change in the nature and needs of the general energy framework, it is past time for America to unhinge itself from the outdated energy policies of yesterday and move towards a regulatory scheme that will allow America’s domestic energy sources, production, and innovation to thrive. H.R. 8 does just that.