House Republicans launched their "Idea Lab" Thursday, outlining their energy agenda for the coming year. The common theme is the importance of fossil fuels to the nation's energy mix, whether it's extracting them at home, shipping them in from Canada or exporting them overseas.
"Producing more in America and that means opening a lot more resources we have in America that are right now closed by the Obama administration," Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), vice chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, told reporters in a conference call.
Scalise added the United States could become a "net exporter of energy" in a decade, "But again, it takes the right policies in Washington."
Scalise and the subcommittee's chairman, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), said their top priorities included immediate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline extension; increasing oil and gas drilling on federal lands; reforming federal rules to make it easier to export oil and gas; and forcing federal agencies to take the full costs of their actions into account when adopting regulations.
When EPA adopts rules that impact coal mining, Whitfield noted, it often fails to include the impact coal miners experience when they lose both their salary and health benefits.
"They only focus on what they view as benefits, with jobs being produced in other industries," he said. "We are simply asking for a more realistic view, and a more complete view."
It remains unclear what policies House Republicans will press to adopt in the near future. Whitfield said they did not plan to pass legislation on hydraulic fracturing because the federal government is still studying the issue.
"I don’t see that Congress right now expects to do anything because we’re still using hydraulic fracturing, and it’s a great success," he said.