Park City, 16 August (Argus) — The US Congress should rebalance power with the executive branch by taking a stronger role in developing regulations on the energy industry, US House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said.
Bishop told participants at the American Coal Council conference in Park City, Utah, yesterday that so far this session Congress has focused primarily on undoing regulations put in place by former president Barack Obama's administration that were "simply unfair and inappropriate." He pointed to the Stream Protection Rule, which governs how companies can mine within 100ft of intermittent waterways, as an example of a rule Bishop deems overreach by the previous administration.
Bishop says now he is eager to "come up with legislation that can be permanent, that can be long-standing, and can set the standard well beyond the end of this particular administration."
Bishop wants to see Congress pass bills that speed up permitting for projects like Millennium Bulk Terminals, improve the abandoned mine lands fund, and make it easier for third parties to assist in coal mine reclamation.
He is also interested in legislation sponsored by representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) that would require lawmakers to approve any future federal coal leasing moratoriums and a measure proposed by representative Evan Jenkins (R - West Virginia) that would prohibit the use of "ambiguous metrics" such as the social cost of carbon in environmental rulemaking.
But Republican control of both houses of Congress and the presidency does not guarantee success, Bishop warned. The same was true when Bishop first came into office in 2003, but "we be basically screwed it (up)," he said. "This time we cannot afford to do that."
The Senate, with rules that require a 60-vote majority to push forward most legislation, is the biggest potential roadblock, Bishop said. President Donald Trump has urged the Senate to drop the 60-vote rule, but Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has refused.
Bishop said he has meetings set up with key senators when lawmakers return to Washington next month to try to find a strategy to move forward. "We want energy to be the focal point as we come back in September," he said.
But lawmakers already have some key legislative priorities awaiting them, including funding the federal government for fiscal year 2018 beginning 1 October, raising the federal debt limit and overhauling the US tax code. That may make squeezing in energy legislation extremely difficult.