GOP American Energy Initiative hearings Thursday

Beginning Thursday, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a legislative hearing on a series of bills put forth by the GOP which are part of an effort to expand renewable energy production and create jobs. This is all part of the House Republicans’ American Energy Initiative. Given some of the troubling efforts we’ve seen in the past, a lot of conservatives tend to roll their eyes when someone brings up renewable energy, but this initiative takes a different approach which is worth a look.

These bills deal primarily with wind and geo-thermal energy which might be developed on federal lands. While locations where these energy types are viable may be limited, they do exist, and this initiative is part of the GOP’s “all of the above” policy of maximizing domestic energy production. Unfortunately, in the past, too many proposals have involved flushing large amounts of taxpayer money into programs where energy producers wind up being unable develop the resources. They end up waiting endlessly for permits (sound familiar?) which never materialize because of endless, redundant environmental surveys, because the site is the home of the purple crested fence sitting chipmunk or because the installation would block somebody’s view of the yacht races. (Not in my back yard.)

These bills, rather than having the government fund such efforts, seek to modernize the process for energy producers to put their money where their mouth is and get to work. A large portion of this effort is to reduce the EPA’s heavy footprint on the process by streamlining restrictions in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and putting firm limits on how long the Bureau of Land Management has to process permit applications. Included are:

H.R. 2170 (Hastings-WA), the Cutting Federal Red Tape to Facilitate Renewable Energy Act

The Cutting Red Tape to Facilitate Renewable Energy Act will accelerate the development of clean, renewable energy projects on Federal lands and waters to create jobs and protect the environment.

This American Energy Initiative legislation would streamline bureaucratic impediments, while still ensuring thorough environmental reviews, in order to promote the timely and efficient production of renewable energy.

H.R. 2171 (Labrador-ID), the Exploring for Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act

The Exploring Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act establishes a common sense, streamlined policy for the development of clean geothermal energy resources that will create jobs and provide low cost energy to American families.

Geothermal energy is naturally occurring steam or hot water that is moved through a turbine to generate electricity. In exploring for geothermal energy potential, test holes, less than eight inches in diameter, are drilled to discover where concentrated, naturally occurring steam or hot water exist.

H.R. 2172 (Noem-SD), the Utilizing America’s Federal Lands for Wind Energy Act

The Utilizing America’s Federal Lands for Wind Energy Act will speed the production of clean, renewable American energy by streamlining the process to develop onshore wind power on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands.

Renewable energy production is an important part of House Republicans’ all-of-the-above energy approach that will help create American jobs and protect the environment.

H.R. 2173 (Wittman-VA), Advancing Offshore Wind Production Act

The Advancing Offshore Wind Production Act will speed the production of clean, renewable American energy by streamlining the process for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to develop offshore wind power.

Unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles and duplicative regulatory requirements are slowing the development of offshore wind power. For example, it can take years for a project to complete the environmental work required to set up a temporary tower to simply test the wind levels at a specific location within a leased area. This is in addition to the environmental impact studies that are completed before a lease is issued and before permanent windmills are installed.

Full details of each are available at the links, including the complete text of the bills in .pdf format, so take a look and decide whether or not we should be lending our support to this effort.