Committee on Energy and Commerce

Fred Upton

A Continuing Review of the Administration’s Cap and Trade Rules – Next #SubEnergyPower Hearing Slated for October 22


The Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), held a hearing this week examining the administration’s cap and trade rules. The Washington Examiner reported on full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) comparing “Democrats' failed attempts to pass a cap-and-trade bill to reduce emissions, and the Environmental Protection Agency's recently finalized Clean Power Plan….” As the Examiner notes, “A cap-and-trade system would place a hard limit on emissions, and force power plants and other emitter to buy emission credits if they need to exceed those caps.”

On Thursday, October 22, 2015, the Energy and Power Subcommittee will continue its examination of the two final rules and a third proposed rule to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new and existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. The hearing is entitled, “EPA’s CO2 Regulations for New and Existing Power Plants: Legal Perspectives.” More information can be found online here as it becomes available. 

October 7, 2015

Upton warns of EPA’s ‘economy-wide energy tax’

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton said Wednesday that the president's climate change agenda amounts to "a massive economy-wide energy tax."

The Republican from Michigan drew a comparison between Democrats' failed attempts to pass a cap-and-trade bill to reduce emissions, and the Environmental Protection Agency's recently finalized Clean Power Plan during a hearing Wednesday.

Upton said, "the American people recognized cap-and-trade for what it was, a massive economy-wide energy tax, and Congress wisely listened to them" when the policy was being debated when Democrats held the majority. "And since that time, neither the House nor the Senate has made a serious effort to revive this discredited approach."

A cap-and-trade system would place a hard limit on emissions, and force power plants and other emitters to buy emission credits if they need to exceed those caps.

"But now, the Obama administration is attempting to regulate where it failed to legislate with EPA issuing final rules to regulate carbon dioxide from new and existing fossil fuel-fired plants," Upton said. Carbon dioxide is blamed by many scientists for increasing the Earth's temperature, and increasing the rate of flooding and droughts.

Under the Clean Power Plan, EPA could impose a cap-and-trade system if a state cannot, or refuses, to comply with the program by the fall of next year. Upton says this places most "states between a rock and a hard place."

"I didn't support the legislative version of cap and trade, and I don't feel any better about today's regulatory equivalent," he said.

To read the article online, click here.


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#Yes2Energy: House Votes to Lift 40-Year-Old Ban on Crude Oil Exports


WASHINGTON, DC – The United States House of Representatives today passed Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) H.R. 702, bipartisan legislation that would #LiftTheBan on crude oil exports. The measure passed by a vote of 261 - 159. Studies have shown that lifting the antiquated ban on crude oil exports would lower prices at the pump, support job growth, and strengthen America’s national security and geopolitical influence across the globe. The passage of H.R. 702 adds to the Energy and Commerce Committee’s growing bipartisan #RecordOfSuccess.

Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) noted, “I am delighted to see this important bipartisan bill pass the House of Representatives. This legislation will allow us to tap into America’s energy abundance and natural resources, while putting an end to the outdated restrictions on the export of American oil. I applaud Mr. Barton and the rest of our Energy and Power Subcommittee for all of their hard work on this legislation that will provide a major boost for jobs and the economy, and help keep gasoline affordable for everyone.”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Barton added, “This is not a regional issue. This is not an oil patch issue. This is an American issue. America’s energy boom has sparked a jobs boom, but continued job growth is now in jeopardy without access to global markets. H.R. 702 presents a rare opportunity to help the economy at home, enhance our influence abroad, and strengthen our national defense, and all at no added cost to the American people and I’m glad it passed the House today.”

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) concluded, “Lifting the crude oil export ban is a win for our economy. It would lower prices at the pump, create jobs, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits, and strengthen our geopolitical influence across the globe. It would also boost royalty payments from federal oil and gas leases, reducing the budget deficit by over a billion dollars. Collectively, all of these gains provide the makings of a success story that would greatly benefit our economy at a time of great uncertainty. After four decades, it’s time to lift the ban and say yes to energy.”


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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: Time To #LiftTheBan on Crude Oil Exports


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will look to say #Yes2Energy and vote to lift the nearly 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. H.R. 702, sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), would #LiftTheBan on crude oil exports, lower prices at the pump, create jobs, and make America more energy independent and energy secure. Support has poured in from numerous organizations ahead of the vote and it’s time we make the current ban on crude oil a thing of the past.

American Energy Alliance

“Repealing this antiquated government mandate will spur economic growth, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and allow Americans to benefit from affordable and reliable energy.”

American Pipeline Contractors Association

“This energy-driven American jobs and growth bonanza is at grave risk today. In the past year hundreds of thousands of supply chain workers have lost their jobs, in communities largely outside of oil producing areas. This is in large part because export markets are closed to U.S. producers. Enabling free trade in U.S. crude oil will turn this situation around, putting these skilled Americans back to work.”

America’s Natural Gas Alliance

“Lifting the ban on U.S. oil exports will offer our global allies and trading partners an alternative source of energy, shrink global dependence on oil sourced from hostile regimes, and put America on level footing with all other producing nations.”

American Petroleum Institute

“Enactment of this important bipartisan legislation will benefit American consumers, create jobs right here at home, grow the economy, reduce our trade deficit, and bolster our strategic alliances abroad.”

The INGAA Foundation

“Opening global markets to U.S. producers will support added domestic production that will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and contribute tens of billions of GDP dollars in the supply chain within the next few years. At the same time, we will put downward pressure on domestic fuel prices, while we provide our allies and trading partners with an alternative to sourcing energy from unfriendly and unstable sources.”

National Association of Manufacturers

“H.R. 702 would repeal the ban on crude oil exports, place the U.S. into compliance with its international commitments and send a strong message to the global community that we intend to honor the basic rules of the global economy.”

National Taxpayers Union

“Study after study has demonstrated that repealing the crude oil export ban would be an enormous economic boon to taxpayers by adding hundreds of thousands of new jobs to the economy, increasing GDP by billions, and enhancing household income.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“The United States is now the largest petroleum and natural gas producer in the world. In light of the U.S. energy boom, maintaining our self-imposed restraint hinders the U.S. economy from realizing the benefits that could come from being a key energy supplier to the world. …We urge the U.S. House of Representatives to approve H.R. 702.”

U.S. Maritime

“H.R. 702 removes restrictions on the export of crude oil in order to provide economic and security benefits for our country and its allies.”

To view all the letters the committee has received, click here.


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HEARING POSTPONEMENT NOTICE: Environment and the Economy


WASHINGTON, DC – Tomorrow’s Environment and the Economy Subcommittee hearing: “E-Manifest: An Update on Implementation,” has been postponed to a date and time to be determined. Additional information will be made available here.

Keep up to date with the committee schedule online here.


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Committee Begins Getting Answers from Volkswagen and EPA on Emissions Cheat


WASHINGTON, DC – The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), today continued its investigation of the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Members today heard from Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen USA, and the Environmental Protection Agency as they work toward understanding the facts and circumstances around this cheating and how it went undetected for so long.

“The behavior to which VW admitted represents a fundamental violation of public trust. And the reverberations of this violation can be seen across the United States and across the world as people grapple with the implications. We need to develop a clear understanding of the facts and circumstances surrounding this case. This hearing was an important step towards that goal,” said Murphy.

“There is a lot we still do not know about Volkswagen’s actions, or their motivations, in attempting to skirt emissions standards. But regardless of intent, they have betrayed the trust of regulators, dealers and, most importantly, the driving public,” added full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “Every single one of us who has ties to Michigan is proud of our rich tradition that is so closely intertwined with the success of the automobile. In fact, Michigan is one of several states that have launched their own investigations. Recent reports are sickening, and cannot be tolerated. All automakers must advance by imagination and innovation – not by gaming the system and breaking the law.




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#SubHealth Reviews Several Bipartisan Bills to Address Growing Threat of Drug Abuse


Bipartisan Members and Administration Witnesses Agree on Need to Act to Help Communities Across the Country

WASHINGTON, DC – The Health Subcommittee this morning began a hearing to discuss several bipartisan legislative proposals to address the growing drug abuse crisis – both with prescription and synthetic drugs – happening in communities across the country. Subcommittee members today heard testimony from a panel of administration witnesses and the subcommittee will reconvene later this month to hear from outside experts on these legislative proposals. Members and witnesses all agreed on the need to act to address this prevalent and growing epidemic.

Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) said, “Prescription drug abuse does not discriminate; it is not limited by geography, income, or age. According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, one in five Americans has used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.”

The legislative proposals discussed today build on the work of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee over the past year. The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has held a number of hearings to hear from a variety of witnesses about how to address this complex issue. Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added, “In addition to the O&I hearings, many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have participated in numerous discussions back home with impacted constituents and local leaders about the devastating effects this public health crisis is having on our communities.”

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) said, “I have held multiple roundtables in my district with members of law enforcement, prescribers, pharmacists, and representatives from HHS and the VA; I have met with mothers and fathers of active users, recovering addicts, and overdose victims. Tragically, these families have become the real experts in this field. The consistent thread in this debate is that 80 percent of heroin use starts with a prescription for pain meds. Many of these prescribers are unaware they are a major part of the problem. We need to educate prescribers as well as patients to temper expectations on what pain management is and is not.”

Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN) discussed legislation he authored, H.R. 2872, and the Opioid Addition Treatment Workgroup he has formed with Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rep. Steve Womak (R-AR), and others. Bucshon said, “Our objective is to refine this legislation to become a bill that all of the key stakeholders will support. We can only reverse the opioid epidemic by effectively treating the underlying cause – and part of that underlying cause is our Federal government’s public health response to addiction. Clearly, what we are currently doing is not working well-enough. Change is needed.”

Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy in the Executive Office of the President, outlined the efforts the administration has already taken and recommitted to working with Congress in addressing this important issue. Botticelli said, “Together with all of you, we are committed partners, working to reduce the prevalence of substance use disorders through prevention, increasing access to treatment, and helping individuals recover from the disease of addiction.”

Dr. Richard Frank, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, outlined the steps HHS is currently taking and how the committee can continue to work with the department moving forward. Frank said, “Based on a review of the evidence and clinical science, our plan focuses on the actions that existing evidence suggests would produce the most impact on three specific areas: (1) improving opioid analgesic prescribing practices; (2) expanding the use of medication-assisted treatment and recovery services for individuals with an opioid-use disorder; and (3) expanding the use and distribution of naloxone. … HHS believes that addressing this problem is an area of common ground and there are a number of bills introduced in the Congress that touch on some of the same issues.”

Jack Riley, Acting Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, succinctly summed up the situation stating, “We cannot arrest our way out of this.”

The legislative text, complete witness testimony, and a full recording of today’s hearing are available online HERE. Updates regarding the committee schedule and the continuation of this hearing will me made available HERE.


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ICYMI: USA Today: “Drop oil export ban”


On Friday, the House of Representatives is expected to consider Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) H.R. 702, legislation that lifts the nearly 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. Ahead of the vote, the USA Today Editorial Board outlines why it’s time to #LiftTheBan on crude oil exports. The board writes, “Whatever use there was for an export ban in the ‘70s has long disappeared. … What’s more, there’s ample evidence that the ban is hurting America’s resurgent domestic oil industry and costing jobs. … Four decades have passed since the energy crisis. It’s time to adopt policies that fit the times."

To read letters in support of H.R. 702, click here.

To view a fact sheet, click here

October 6, 2015

Drop oil export ban: Our view

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, Congress and President Ford banned exports of oil produced in America. The move, popular at the time, responded to Americans’ deep sense of powerlessness and frustration in an age of Arab oil embargoes and long lines at gas stations.

But whatever use there was for an export ban in the '70s has long disappeared. Congress should lift the ban, starting with a vote in the House set for later this week, and President Obama should sign the measure, either in stand-alone form or as part of a larger deal.

Increased production and gains in fuel efficiency have made oil relatively cheap and abundant in recent years. Adjusted for inflation, oil prices have never returned to where they were at the peak. And long gas lines, the dread of the mid-1970s, have never returned.

What’s more, there’s ample evidence that the ban is hurting America’s resurgent domestic oil industry and costing jobs. The price of global oil is now about $6 to $8 per barrel higher than the domestic benchmark known as West Texas Intermediate. This discrepancy stems from a mismatch between the type of oil being produced and the type of oil that domestic refiners are designed to process.

The lower prices domestic producers get is a serious problem at a time when falling oil prices are wreaking havoc on oil industry that had been on a roll. The Energy Department has twice cut its estimates for June oil production, shaving some 250,000 barrels a day, or about 2.7%, off the total. This is mostly the result of a global oil glut. But the inability of producers to get a fair price in a tough market makes matters worse.

Four decades have passed since the energy crisis. It’s time to adopt policies that fit the times.

To read the editorial online, click here.


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#Curesin4Words: “A PKD Free Me!”


Meet Owen. Owen is four years old and suffers from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), one of the most common, life-threatening genetic diseases. Doctors diagnosed Owen when his mom, Kate, was just 34 weeks pregnant, at which time she was diagnosed as well. They both currently live relatively healthy lives at the moment, but Owen is already on blood pressure medication even at his young age.

When diagnosed, Owen’s family engaged with the community to help generate more awareness for the disease. Like so many other 21st Century Cures supporters, they have demonstrated incredible strength and positivity – remained optimistic for cures and treatments. In fact, his family had never even heard of PKD prior to Owen’s diagnosis. Nevertheless, they have attended the PKD Leadership Conference in Kansas City, MO, made friends, and engaged on social media.

Owen’s mom wrote to the committee about her positive outlook. She said, “We feel strongly that it is our job to open people’s eyes to the struggles of PKD patients. The way I see it, we can sit around and feel defeated by what may be in our future, or we can try our best to change it.” 

She continued, “The 21st Century Cures bill can open doors and provide better options for PKD patients. It takes into account the quality of life of PKD sufferers and their families. My greatest hope is that by raising awareness, funding research, and promoting legislation such as this we will find a treatment and cures, and Owen will never have to suffer the full effects of PKD.”

PKD is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure and more than 50 percent of those with PKD will develop kidney failure by the age of 50. At that point, the only options are dialysis or transplant. While normal kidneys are typically the size of a fist, patients with PKD can have kidneys that grow as large as a football and weigh up to 30 pounds each.

There are two types of PKD: autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive. In autosomal dominant PKD, fluid-filled cysts develop and enlarge both kidneys, eventually leading to kidney failure. Autosomal recessive PKD is relatively rare, affecting about 1 in 20,000 children. It can lead to death in the first month of life. About one-third who do survive the newborn stage, about 70 percent, will need dialysis or a kidney transplant by age 10. Progress has been made, however. Twenty years ago, only half of children born with the disease survived to their 10th birthday. Now that percentage has increased to 85.

21st Century Cures is working to help make kids like Owen realize PKD-free futures.

Learn more about PKD at Stay up to speed with 21st Century Cures online HERE.

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NEWS: Politico on Spectrum Scoring: ‘It Just Drives You Crazy’


Discussing the bipartisan efforts to make additional spectrum available for consumer use, Politico this week featured an article highlighting the many procedural difficulties in bringing these auctions to fruition. The thesis is that congressional scoring rules undervalue this precious resource, often to the tune of billions of dollars. House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden explained:

“Unfortunately, spectrum auctions are scored in a way that doesn't appropriately value this limited resource," Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) — chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications — said in a statement to POLITICO. He called for "ways to more accurately value spectrum ahead of auctions" to help "policymakers as we work to make additional spectrum available for auction to meet consumer demand."

October 7, 2015

‘It Just Drives You Crazy’Why inflexible budget rules are keeping lawmakers from selling billions of dollars worth of government airwaves By Kate Tummarello

The federal government could earn tens of billions of dollars by selling a stockpile of unneeded but highly coveted airwaves, but Congress' own inflexible budgeting rules are depriving taxpayers of a potential windfall, say regulators and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Under the rule set in place after the sequester negotiations of 2011, Congress won't approve any new spending without an equal amount of increased revenue. And the Congressional Budget Office is charged with coming up with that final price tag.

In 2012, when Congress passed a bill authorizing the Federal Communications Commission to auction off airwaves, or spectrum, to fuel the country's ever-expanding cellphone networks, the CBO was uncertain how intense the demand would be weighed against the cost of relocating users to other airwaves. The CBO pegged the potential profit to the government at $15 billion over the next decade.

That proved to be a massive underestimate, as the first auction earlier this year brought in close to double that for the government. A second auction, scheduled for next year, of valuable frequencies to be relinquished by TV stations is likely to bring in another $30 billion to $40 billion in revenue. Now, with companies like AT&T and T-Mobile desperate to get their hands on more of these airwaves, lawmakers want to capitalize on demand and sell off frequencies that the Department of Defense and Department of Transportation no longer need.

But despite recent evidence of red-hot sale prices, the CBO won't reconsider its 10-year estimate, frustrating lawmakers, lobbyists and FCC commissioners alike.

“Unfortunately, spectrum auctions are scored in a way that doesn't appropriately value this limited resource," Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) — chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications — said in a statement to POLITICO. He called for "ways to more accurately value spectrum ahead of auctions" to help "policymakers as we work to make additional spectrum available for auction to meet consumer demand." …

Read the full article online here.


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Fulfilling America’s Energy Potential in the 21st Century


Upton: “The long lines at gas pumps from the 1970s are a thing of the past. It is time to place outdated energy assumptions and laws in the past too.”

In a recent post on Medium, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) outlined how H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, would help America capitalize on its newfound energy abundance. He writes, “Now is the time to bring our energy laws into the 21st century and embrace our new energy landscape that keeps energy reliable and affordable for American families and businesses, makes strategic improvements to our aging energy infrastructure, and provides tangible opportunities for our economy to thrive and grow.”

October 7, 2015

Putting America on Course to Realize our 21st Century Energy Potential

By Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI)

In the 1970s our national energy policy reflected scarcity. The 1973 oil crisis resulted in cars backed up for miles at gas pumps and left families scrambling to pay electricity bills. Today, our energy story is much different. Yet our energy laws still reflect this 1970s scarcity mindset.

Over the past year, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which I chair, has conducted a number of legislative hearings, received testimony from a number of government witnesses — including Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz — and heard from dozens of private sector companies. As a result of this multi-year, multi-Congress effort to engage a variety of stakeholders, we have produced energy legislation that will transform our energy landscape to unleash our 21st century energy potential.

Our bipartisan legislation, H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, contains four sections that reflect our new energy abundance and outlines how we can update our current laws.

At a hearing featuring testimony from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Title I of H.R. 8 focuses on modernizing and protecting our energy infrastructure. The United States is now the world’s leading energy producer (yes, really), and according to the Energy Information Institute, the U.S. was the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2014. But our energy storage, distribution, and transmission networks have not kept pace. Developers and investors, armed with state-of-the-art technologies that offer new opportunities and improved efficiencies, are eager to break ground on new projects to put people to work. But there is simply too much government red tape slowing down the permitting and siting process. This needs to change so that we can realize our newfound energy opportunities. Title I also encourages states to adopt measures to enhance the resilience of the electric grid, improve preparedness and restoration time to alleviate power outages, and take steps to ensure the power stays on for critical public health facilities like hospitals and other essential services.

Title II aims to create a 21st century energy workforce to sustain and maximize our energy boom. The jobs benefits of our energy abundance should be accessible to all Americans, and our legislation reflects our commitment to expand the energy workforce to include more under-represented minority and low-income communities. Empowering the Department of Energy to collaborate with national laboratories, community colleges, and public-private partnerships to leverage existing resources will help foster and sustain a 21st century energy and manufacturing workforce.

Title III outlines ways we can improve our energy security and diplomacy. The geopolitical benefits of the North American energy revolution are undeniable: domestic energy politics can help improve energy security here at home — and amongst our allies abroad. Our legislation seeks to bolster America’s energy diplomacy by improving communication and strengthening partnerships with our North American neighbors and establishing a process to evaluate how domestic energy permitting decisions impact energy security around the world.

Title IV zeroes in on how we can improve energy efficiency and accountability. Commonsense solutions that harness new technologies and innovations that lead to more efficient energy use is a critical component of our legislation. By promoting simple and affordable methods to address energy demands and bringing down costs for taxpayers, we can save money for all Americans. We also seek to reduce government waste and prioritize budget dollars in existing programs.

Now is the time to bring our energy laws into the 21st century and embrace our new energy landscape that keeps energy reliable and affordable for American families and businesses, makes strategic improvements to our aging energy infrastructure, and provides tangible opportunities for our economy to thrive and grow.

The long lines at gas pumps from the 1970s are a thing of the past. It is time to place outdated energy assumptions and laws in the past too.

Speaking about our energy landscape in 2013 at the Hispanics in Energy National Energy Policy Summit. 

To read the blog online, click here.


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