The Senate is poised to consider broad energy legislation, the first of its kind since 2007. S.2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, seeks to address various facets of energy policy, from efficiency standards to power supply and the electric grid. Overall, this bill fails to shepherd in significant energy policy reform and instead increases regulation and spending in an effort to fix perceived problems—similar to the 2005 and 2007 energy bills. In reality, few energy issues are improved through additional federal regulation and subsidies. Instead, legislation should be focused on limiting the scope of the federal government and promoting American energy prosperity.
Several amendments to this bill are worth highlighting. The American Energy Alliance will key vote these amendments, should they receive a vote on the Senate floor.
YES on Cassidy Amendment Repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Sen. Cassidy introduced an amendment that would fully repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS was created in the 2005 energy bill and amended by the 2007 energy bill. This costly mandate has hurt American families and businesses for over a decade by driving up fuel prices and requiring expensive, uneconomical, and commercially unavailable “advanced” biofuels to be blended into gasoline by refiners. Sen. Cassidy’s amendment would fully repeal the RFS, thus ending the ethanol and advanced biofuels blending mandates. The American Energy Alliance supports full repeal of the RFS and urges all Senators to vote YES on SA 2977, the Cassidy RFS repeal amendment.
YES on Lee Amendment Blocking Permanent Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF): Sen. Lee introduced an amendment striking language that would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF is funded through offshore drilling fees and royalties, which then go into an account that is used to finance federal land acquisition and management. However, the federal government is a historically poor steward of our nation’s land. From environmental mismanagement to the stifling of natural resources development, the federal government has proven inept as a caretaker of America’s lands. States, not the federal government, should be in charge of maintaining public lands, as states have more local knowledge and are more invested in maintaining the lands in which they live. While the LWCF was extended for three years in the recent Omnibus bill, Sen. Lee’s amendment striking permanent reauthorization of the LWCF is a step toward holding the federal government in check. The American Energy Alliance urges all Senators to vote YES on SA 3022, Sen. Lee’s LWCF amendment.
NO on Reid-King Amendment on Net Metering: Sens. King and Reid introduced an amendment that would increase energy prices for consumers and trample on the abilities of states and localities to best serve their electricity users. Their amendment, which aims to federalize net metering policy, would limit the ability of state electricity regulators to change net metering policies. State regulators already oversee net metering of distributed energy generation, including rooftop solar, and the regulation of electricity rates has always been the prerogative of state and localities, not the federal government. Further, the amendment would force utilities to increase fees for all customers, not just those who opt to participate in net metering services. This would make net metering even more regressive by levying additional fees on non-net metering customers, who tend to have lower incomes than net metering customers. The King-Reid amendment unnecessarily increases the scope of the federal government and would harm American families, especially the poor and middle class who cannot afford expensive solar systems. The American Energy Alliance urges all Senators to vote NO on SA 3120, the King-Reid net metering amendment.
YES on Lee Antiquities Act Amendment:
An amendment introduced by Sen. Lee makes the designation of national monuments under the Antiquities Act more democratic.
Under the Antiquities Act, the President can designate land (or waters) as “national monuments,” without any Congressional or state input or oversight. According to the act itself, the President is directed to designate land the “limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” However, the Antiquities Act has since been used to designate arbitrarily large swaths of land—mainly in the West—as National Monuments. Currently 7 million acres in ten western states have been designated as National Monuments.
The use of land designated as a National Monument is severely limited. This land is unable to be used for any sort of resource development and leads to forgone state and federal revenues from royalties, taxes, and general economic growth.
This amendment would not affect the ability of Presidents to designate National Monuments, but would only require subsequent federal and state laws be passed within three years of the land being designated as a national monument, or the designation expires. This promotes greater democratic cooperation and ensures both Congress and the states have a say in how their land is managed.
We urge all Senators to vote YES on SA 3126, the Lee Antiquities Act amendment.
YES on Amendments Taking on Obama’s Coal Leasing Moratorium:
Sens. Barrasso and Hatch have introduced language pushing back on the Administration’s moratorium on new coal leases. Continuing the Obama administration’s war on affordable energy, the Department of the Interior recently paused all new coal leases on federal lands until it completes a review of the program.
This moratorium is an attack on coal, but also on the use of federal lands. Following the logic of this moratorium, the administration could move to place a moratorium on natural gas and oil leasing as well as severely limit recreation on federal lands. Such policy is designed to deprive American families of affordable and reliable energy in the name of bureaucratic red tape and rhetoric.
The Barrasso amendment, SA 3083, would stop the moratorium outright. The Hatch amendment, SA 2955, would require the Interior Department to justify its moratorium on new coal leases and for Congress to approve of the action. Both amendments are a strong step in fighting this unnecessary and harmful overreach. We urge all Senators to vote YES on SA 3083 and SA 2955.
YES on Flake Ratepayer Transparency Amendment:
Senator Flake introduced an amendment calling for increased transparency regarding electricity subsidies. This amendment requires utilities to study the effects of ratepayer subsidies and provide information on such subsidies to consumers.
Many electricity subsidies, such as net metering, provide the majority of the benefits to upper income families. Some may desire this outcome, but all electricity ratepayers have the right to know how the subsidies work.
The Flake amendment encourages increased transparency for ratepayers and is a step towards increased accountability. We urge all Senators to vote YES on SA 3053.