Although the Keystone clock stands at 2,042 days since TransCanada first filed its application to construct the landmark pipeline, the project has now been delayed indefinitely by the Obama administration. This, despite over 22,000 pages of exhaustive review by the State Department that confirmed the “all-of-the-above” project is safe and will have limited environmental impacts. As Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) commented last Friday upon learning of the latest delay, “All Keystone XL requires is a simple 'yes' or 'no,' but after over 2,000 days, the administration is still incapable of making a decision, putting politics ahead of jobs - not exactly a profile in courage.” The president’s hometown Chicago Tribune today also highlighted the harm the Obama administration’s needless delays are causing to job creation.
April 23, 2014
EDITORIAL: Another excuse to stall the Keystone XL decision
Obama administration finds another reason to stall a decision on Keystone XL
Last week the Obama administration jumped on a court ruling in Nebraska to delay a federal decision one more time on the Keystone XL pipeline. You could almost hear the president saying, thank you Cornhuskers!
Or in this case, Cornhusker, singular. …
The State Department had been expected to determine in the next few weeks if it would recommend the Keystone pipeline on a route that crosses from Canada into the U.S. heartland. But State Department officials announced an indefinite delay because of the Nebraska court case.
That's puzzling, given that Bloomberg News reported recently that the State Department had decided the Nebraska case wouldn't affect its review of Keystone. It is the job of the State Department to determine if the project serves the national interest. All signs have pointed to 'yes.' In January, the State Department released its final environmental report on the project, which concluded that the project would have minimal impact.
Now State has decided to sit on its hands. Officials said they will take the time to review the 2.5 million public comments they've received. We can envision the folks at State staging long, slow, breathy dramatic readings of those comments because ... they ... have ... all ... the ... time ... in ... the ... world. …
But the delay is bad for Americans who would like to have a job.
This project — already five years in discussions — would link oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta to American ports and refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. It would make the North American energy industry more efficient. It would improve safety by delivering oil via pipeline rather than the current, riskier practice of shipping it by train. It would put people to work. …
The State Department doesn't have to wait for Nebraska to settle its state legal wrangling. The State Department should make it's decision on national interest now, so when the dust settles in Nebraska, this energy-driving, job-producing project, can, finally, become a reality.
Read the complete editorial online HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC - The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at 10 a.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled “Examining the Growing Problems of Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse.”
Subcommittee members will review the growing concerns regarding heroin and prescription opioid abuse and related deaths. Reports indicate that as heroin overdoses increase, prescription drug abuse decreases, and vice versa. Almost half of drug overdose deaths in 2010 were attributed to prescription painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse also finds that heroin use has been increasing since 2007 with nearly double the number of Americans using heroin in 2012 as did in 2006. Representatives from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have been invited to testify.
The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at 10 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The subcommittee will continue its review of draft legislation, the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA). Witnesses to be announced.
The subcommittee is continuing its work to reform and improve the decades-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Chairman Shimkus unveiled a draft of the Chemicals in Commerce Act after the subcommittee’s extensive review of the current law. The draft legislation reforms the law to ensure a transparent, workable, and risk-based process for chemical review and regulation. The subcommittee reviewed an initial draft of the legislation in March, and members have since continued to work together on a bipartisan basis to find common ground. Next week, the subcommittee will review a revised draft of the legislation.
“I’ve said from the beginning of the process that I’ve wanted to work in a collaborative, bipartisan way to reform TSCA. This new draft reflects suggestions from members on both sides of the aisle, as well as stakeholders and the administration. We should be proud of what we have accomplished so far, and I am hopeful members can continue to work together as we move forward. Reforming TSCA is not only good for jobs and the economy, but it is also needed to improve protections for consumers and the environment,” said Shimkus.
To view an updated draft of the Chemicals in Commerce Act, click here.
The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.
House GOP Continues to Champion “All of the Above” Energy Strategy to Help Consumers, Grow the Economy, and Aide our Global Allies
As Americans across the country celebrate Earth Day and the abundant resources we sometimes take for granted, House Republicans continue to champion an “all of the above” energy strategy that provides safe, affordable, and reliable energy for American families and businesses from coast to coast.
Despite the Obama administration proclaiming to support “all of the above,” recent actions reveal a policy that is more aligned with “nothing-from-below.” From last week’s decision to again delay the Keystone XL pipeline, to dragging out the approval process of LNG exports, to the continued decline in energy production on federal lands, the Obama administration has been hostile to affordable American energy, and consumers and our economy have suffered.
But a choice between jobs and the environment is simply a false one, and House Republicans have a true “all of the above” energy plan that all Americans can support. Our visionary plan seeks to harness all of our rich energy resources in a safe and environmentally responsible way for the maximum benefit of our economy and consumers.
We are promoting American energy production and encouraging America’s manufacturing renaissance by supporting policies that strike the appropriate regulatory balance. We are continuing to fight for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline because not only is it in the national interest for jobs, the economy, and our energy security, but it is also is the national interest for the environment. The president’s own State Department concluded that alternative methods to ship the oil sands would have greater environmental impacts. We are working to strengthen North America’s energy infrastructure and facilitate new pipelines for clean-burning natural gas. We are showing leadership in energy diplomacy by working to ensure LNG exports to our allies are no longer subject to needless delays. And we are advancing commonsense solutions to foster innovation and the development of new technologies that allow for more efficient ways of utilizing energy.
It’s a matter of jobs, lower costs to consumers, and providing global leadership to our allies. All done by focusing on a truly “all of the above” energy strategy and continuing to be a worldwide leader in the safety of producing this energy. This Earth Day, let’s focus on the positives of American energy abundance and how we can continue on our path to American energy independence in a safe, reliable, and efficient way.
To learn more about the House GOP energy plans, and how the Energy and Commerce committee is focused on these important issues, check out our Powering the Future page.Read More
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee members today sent a letter to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. expressing their concerns regarding the administration’s proposed changes to generic drug labeling. The committee leaders are also concerned with the motivation behind the proposed rule, and who was – and was not – involved in drafting this proposal. The letter follows up on a January 22, 2014, letter to FDA and April 1, 2014, hearing with the FDA regarding the proposed changes.
In the letter to Commissioner Hamburg, the committee members write, “As discussed in a bicameral letter we sent to you on January 22, 2014, the committee has significant questions about FDA’s primary motivation for initiating this rulemaking, the agency’s legal basis for proceeding in this manner, and the consequences such an approach would have on providers and patients. Further, the committee is interested in better understanding the involvement of certain individuals and outside organizations in the development and review of the proposal… It is critical that the public have confidence in the impartiality of FDA’s regulatory actions.”
The members continued, “(T)he only outside interest group agency officials apparently met with while developing the proposal was the American Association for Justice (AAJ), otherwise known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. On April 1, 2014, in testimony before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), informed the Health Subcommittee that while FDA did not in fact meet with the generic drug industry, branded drug industry, physicians, or pharmacists, it was her understanding that ‘part of the agency did meet with the trial lawyers.’”
The proposed changes to generic drug labeling undermine decades of successful practice. FDA has said that it proposed these changes to get updated safety information to patients and providers more quickly, but it failed to consult either of those parties in drafting these changes. Further, as the letter states, “it is not at all clear why plaintiffs lawyers would have any role in the development and review of the proposed rule.”
Committee members are seeking all documents and communications between FDA and the sole organization agency officials met with as the rule was being developed, the AAJ, regarding their meeting discussing the proposed rule.
Read the complete letter online here.Read More
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) today released the following statement in response to the State Department’s announcement that the national interest determination period for the Keystone XL pipeline has been put on hold:
“Let me guess. It's Good Friday afternoon and the Obama administration again announces more delays and bad news. Once again, in this so-called 'year of action,' the Obama administration has hit the pause button on jobs and affordable energy. All Keystone XL requires is a simple 'yes' or 'no,' but after over 2000 days, the administration is still incapable of making a decision, putting politics ahead of jobs - not exactly a profile in courage.
“By the day, international developments and unrest, from Ukraine to Nigeria to Venezuela, are putting the spotlight on energy security and the need for a stable North American energy supply. And rising energy prices here at home are putting a strain on household budgets, particularly for the country’s most vulnerable. Now more than ever, we are in desperate need of leadership and conviction. Punting on this decision is not the solution America wants or needs.
“The facts are clear that Keystone XL is in the national interest, but this administration is going to extraordinary lengths to block the landmark project. A ‘yes’ on Keystone is long overdue. The House has done its part in passing legislation to approve this jobs and energy project. Now that the administration has put this project on hold indefinitely, the Senate must act to approve Keystone now.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Continuing the committee’s oversight of the safety and security of the nation’s electric grid, House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders yesterday wrote to Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Cheryl LaFleur seeking information relating to the agency’s management of sensitive security information.
The letter was sent following last week’s release of a Management Alert from the Department of Energy’s Inspector General (IG), which noted weaknesses in FERC’s internal information controls and requested the agency take immediate action to protect certain information. The IG is reviewing FERC’s information management in response to an alleged inappropriate release of information related to the April 2013 Metcalf substation attack near San Jose, California.
In the letter to LaFleur, the committee leaders wrote, “The IG Management Alert raises questions concerning FERC’s management and controls of sensitive information pertaining to the integrity and security of electric grid and other critical infrastructure. In light of this report and our ongoing oversight, we write pursuant to Rules X and XI of the U.S. House of Representatives to request information to help us evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding FERC’s management of information relating to the Metcalf incident and of sensitive security information generally.” The committee requested a response from FERC by May 5, 2014.
The letter was signed by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), and Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
For a copy of the letter, click HERE.Read More
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the administration’s latest health law data release.
“This law has disrupted health care for millions of Americans, sent premiums skyrocketing, limited access to doctors, and cancelled plans, and even after all of that havoc, its ability to add to the insurance rolls is based largely on the fact that it forced Americans to purchase government-mandated coverage under the threat of costly penalties from the IRS. The administration still has not answered basic questions about enrollment and why it will not support fairness for all.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Frank Lucas (R- OK), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) sent a letter this week to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting information on the agency's efforts to oversee states administering the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is intended to provide benefits to those Americans most in need of energy assistance.
The committee leaders highlight the continued manipulation by some states of the relationship between LIHEAP and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Sixteen states and the District of Columbia were allowing their LIHEAP program to make small nominal payments to households without actual utility expenses with the goal of artificially inflating benefit levels for certain SNAP households. Congress responded by including a statutory change in the Farm Bill that requires a LIHEAP payment be at least $20 before the household would qualify for a standard deduction when calculating benefits under SNAP. However, a handful of states have announced plans to continue diverting LIHEAP dollars away from those in need of energy assistance for the sole purpose of maintaining higher SNAP benefit levels. To date, the committees are not aware of any effort by HHS to end this practice, which is a clear attempt to circumvent congressional efforts to ensure LIHEAP funds reach those families, seniors, and households with the greatest need for support in paying their energy bills.
"Secretary Sebelius must hold states accountable when they are administering federal programs and spending federal dollars. We will continue our oversight efforts of both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and HHS to ensure that LIHEAP and SNAP are carried out as Congress intended when it wrote the law. Both agencies must ensure that their respective programs are serving their intended recipients according to the law or Congress will be forced to legislate," said Rep. Frank D. Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
“LIHEAP is a very important program to help low-income households pay their energy bills,” said Rep. Fred Upton, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "We need to make certain that LIHEAP funds aren’t being abused or diverted to other purposes.”
Read the letter online here.Read More
A new report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service chronicles the continued decline of oil and natural gas production on federal lands under the Obama administration, providing greater evidence that America’s energy boom is occurring in spite of the president’s policies not because of them. According to the report, from 2009 to 2013, U.S. crude oil production on non-federal lands increased 61 percent while crude oil production on federal lands fell 6 percent. Natural gas production surged 33 percent on non-federal lands but decreased 28 percent on federal lands.
These updated numbers from CRS are reflective of the increasingly hostile regulatory environment energy producers are confronted with to drill on federal lands. According to CRS, the average time to process an application to drill on federal lands increased 41 percent from 2006 to 2011. And just last week, the Bureau of Land Management released data detailing oil and natural gas leasing on federal lands was at its lowest level in over a decade. Offshore energy production on federal lands has suffered the most under President Obama’s policies. CRS reports that on federal lands, offshore crude oil production fell 13 percent from 2009 to 2013 while offshore natural gas production decreased 47percent.
"America is in the midst of an energy renaissance. For the first time in nearly two decades we are producing more oil than we are importing and we are now poised to become a natural gas exporting nation. We can continue to build on this success, but only if we have the right policies in place. Just think of where we could be if we truly utilized all of our nation’s energy resources,” said Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) “While President Obama has been anxious to take credit for increased oil and gas production, the only areas he is responsible for is on federal lands—the only areas where oil and gas production is actually decreasing.”
Energy and Power Subcommittee Vice Chairman Steve Scalise (R-LA) said, “The shale gas revolution on non-federal lands has transformed our economy and propelled America into the position of a global energy superpower. But we cannot become complacent with this progress. America can secure energy independence by developing all of our energy resources on both federal and non-federal lands. Unfortunately the Obama administration has turned its back on energy exploration on federal lands, costing us hundreds of thousands of good jobs and billions in potential federal revenue.”
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, “The president often boasts about America’s recent energy boom and our progress toward self-sufficiency. While this is an incredible achievement – we are now the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer – the president’s rhetoric does not square with the fact that the administration has done more to thwart American energy production than support it. Our committee and the full House of Representatives continues to pass legislation to allow America to fulfill its full energy potential – helping to cut red tape, speed up permitting, and allow the construction of the Architecture of Abundance. By expanding energy access and making it easier to produce on federal lands, the president has the opportunity to join us in this bipartisan effort and live up to his ‘all-of-the-above’ promises.”
Key Findings of the report
To view the full report, click HERE.
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