Americans Deserve a Committee Focused on Real Energy Reform

As with any suggestion of a change in the status quo in Washington, my call for the establishment of an Energy & Natural Resources Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives (a position which I have held for over five years) has been met with some reservation. I am happy to continue the dialogue about why this is long overdue and welcome others to join the conversation.

Representative Ed Whitfield recently announced plans to retire from Congress at the end of this term. Whitfield, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said one of the issues a future Congress could take on would be to “revisit the Clean Air Act.”

Revisiting the Clean Air Act would be a worthy endeavor. The Obama administration has misused the statute by pursuing the regulation of carbon dioxide to grab more power and exert more control over Americans’ daily lives. Energy policy generally under President Obama has become subservient to carbon dioxide policy through the hijacking of the Clean Air Act by anti-energy groups and their allies in Washington. Just this week, this fact was evidenced by the swift Democratic opposition to the very modest energy bill advanced by Commerce Committee Republicans after a year of “bipartisan” negotiations.

Amending the Clean Air Act currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee. In fact, the committee wrote the laws that the Obama administration is now abusing. Even the committee’s longest serving former Chairman, John Dingell, never intended the Clean Air Act to control carbon dioxide.

To its credit, the Energy and Commerce Committee has held dozens of hearings on the havoc caused by the Administration’s misuse of the Clean Air Act. Unfortunately, they have never mustered the political will to amend the Act’s language to reflect its original intent.

Instead, they have spent the past year advancing a piece of legislation not designed to take on the Administration’s regulatory onslaught, but rather to garner bipartisan support in the hopes that somehow it will make it to the President’s desk. Now, instead of a bipartisan “Architecture of Abundance” they are advancing a partisan energy bill that fails to accomplish meaningful reform.

The fact that the Energy and Commerce Committee has such vast jurisdiction means that the committee has borne the brunt of Obama’s abuse of executive authority. Given the circumstances, they have done as good of a job as one can expect fighting back. However, the fight against national environmental organizations, which are dedicating millions of dollars lobbying to keep our energy resources in the ground, is too important to be relegated to one of many challenges a committee must tackle.

A House Energy and Natural Resources Committee would be able to focus on building a strong case for updating the Clean Air Act. Doing so would go a long way to creating the long-term, structural changes necessary to promote America’s abundant natural resources, lower energy costs, create jobs, and enhance our energy security.

The House Republicans should use the opportunity of a change in leadership to shift the Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy jurisdiction to the House Committee on Natural Resources, which already has jurisdiction over many energy issues and shares jurisdiction with Commerce in several areas. This would allow the Commerce Committee to devote more attention to its other areas of jurisdiction, including healthcare and telecommunications.

A new House Energy and Natural Resources Committee would focus the House Republican effort on advancing real energy reform. As energy issues rise to the forefront of the policy agenda, the American people deserve a concentrated focus on this crucial set of issues.

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