This article was originally published on Climate Progress and has been reposted with permission.
The GOP’s mantra on energy is “we shouldn’t pick winners and losers.” But all one needs to do is look at Republican legislative priorities to see how hollow that slogan is.
A series of bills currently being considered in Congress make it very clear that House Republicans are attempting to stack the deck in favor of the fossil fuel industry.
Heck, they don’t even try to hide it.
They assume the “we shouldn’t pick winners and losers” line provides enough of a distraction to give them room to write bills stripping funding for clean energy and promote massive increases in fossil fuel extraction.
Next week is a big one for the most anti-environmental House of Representatives in the history of Congress. As outlined in a recent memo from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), GOP leaders will attempt to pass a sweeping piece of legislation that will open up far more federal lands to drilling.
The bill, called the Strategic Energy Production Act, combines a variety of proposals to roll back EPA safeguards, require more drilling on public lands, and speed up leasing for oil and gas extraction. It’s part of a legislative drumbeat in support of fossil fuels that House Republicans are trying to maintain through the beginning of the summer.
Seeing as how Republicans don’t like picking winners and losers, opening up America to all that drilling would mean maintaining support of clean, renewable sources of energy, right?
Of course not.
Next week’s push for more drilling on public lands follows a series of anti-clean energy amendments adopted into a House water and energy spending bill last week. Those amendments include steep cuts to efficiency programs, a key wind R&D program, clean car rules for federal vehicles, and international commitments to developing countries. Heck, even energy efficiency targets for shower heads weren’t spared in the spending bill.
Rather than balance out these cuts with subsequent cuts to fossil fuels, the bill actually increases R&D spending on fossil fuel technologies by 60 percent.
Maria Gallucci of Inside Climate News documented the 13 different cuts to clean energy programs. Here’s a rundown of some of the programs that lawmakers want to get rid of (see the full story for background on the various programs on the chopping block):
- National R&D initiative for wind technologies. Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
- Federal requirements for zero-carbon buildings. Sponsor: Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.)
- Federal ban on carbon-intensive fuels. Sponsor: Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas)
- International spending on clean energy initiatives. Sponsor: Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)
- Federal efficiency standards for light bulbs. Sponsor: Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas)
- 40-year old efficiency requirement for DOE grant winners. Sponsor: Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.)
- 20-year old efficiency standards for showerheads. Sponsor: David Schweikert (R-Ariz.)
- Efficiency standards for battery chargers. Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.)
As our lawmakers attempt to open up every square inch of America to more drilling rigs, they’re also working to systematically dismantle any program that helps reduce our energy intensity or helps us transition to cleaner sources energy. The remarkable thing is that some of these effective programs are decades old, have come from Republican administrations, and have never been seen as stripping away consumer rights.
This is the fantasy land that many House Republicans are living in today. By throwing around phrases like “not picking winners and losers” and “protecting individual choice,” they’re attempting to set up a smokescreen for their blatant promotion of fossil fuels and disdain for anything that would disrupt the status quo.
Those mantras are nothing more than political code for more dirty energy, less clean energy, and doing nothing about climate change.
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