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Removing the Regulatory Barriers to American Energy


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Affordable energy is a necessary ingredient for long-term economic growth. Lower utility rates reduce overhead costs, leaving businesses more money to grow, add more employees, and reduce consumer prices. The less money families spend on their monthly power bill, the more money they have to save or spend as they wish -- all of which contributes to economic growth.

When the price of energy increases, however, businesses have less capital to expand and hire, and families have less disposable income to spend on goods and services. Even though the economy remains sluggish and many families continue struggling to pay their bills, the Obama Administration has sought regulations which would increase the costs of America's most abundant and affordable forms of energy.

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, for example, is a regulation which would drive up the cost of energy by arbitrarily requiring a 73 percent reduction in certain emissions from power plants between 2005 and 2014. The rule would cost the power sector $2.4 billion annually, which would be passed onto consumers in the form of higher rates.

The House of Representatives passed the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act in September of last year, which would, among other provisions, prevent the implementation and enforcement of this rule. The Senate and President never acted on this legislation, but a U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the rule last month after Nebraska and more than three dozen other states challenged the rule in court.

The court's decision is certainly a step in the right direction as we work to rein in overreaching agencies; however we must continue pursuing regulatory reform to protect domestic energy production and grow our economy. One way to prevent agencies such as the EPA from imposing these major rules would be to enact the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny or REINS Act. This legislation, which has already passed the House, would require major regulations (those with an annual economic impact of more than $100 million or more) to be approved by a stand-alone vote in Congress and signed by the President before they are enforced on businesses, agricultural producers, energy generation, local governments or families.

Comprehensive regulatory reform would go a long way in helping produce more American energy at a lower cost, but we must also identify and reverse new rules which unnecessarily hamper these goals. The House has passed more than a dozen bills to reduce red tape on energy development, exploration, and generation, most of which have not been considered by the Senate.

Our latest effort in the House to stop onerous regulation on American energy was passing H.R. 3409, the Stop the War on Coal Act. This legislation would overturn politically motivated and burdensome regulations on the coal industry, which supplies much of Nebraska's energy needs. The bill also would require agencies to consider the impact of new rules and regulations on jobs and the economy, which surprisingly, agencies such as the EPA are not currently required to do. This requirement would be a positive step toward balancing the need for clean air and water with economic growth and competitiveness.

Congress must continue to overturn or modify the rules which unnecessarily threaten energy production and the broader economy while also reforming the regulatory code and process. In doing so, we can responsibly take advantage of all of our domestic resources which would decrease the cost of energy, promote energy independence, create jobs and promote economic growth.

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