Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas


December 4, 2014

The Hill

EPA Must Not Hemper Energy Boom
By Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX)

As the 113th Congress comes to a close and we look ahead to next year, we have a great deal of work ahead of us. On the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we have many items on our “to do” list. We will be hard at work developing sound energy policy based around the “architecture of energy abundance” with a focus on infrastructure, electric generation, manufacturing, energy innovation and energy diplomacy. As the incoming vice chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, I am particularly focused on developing American energy production and jobs while slashing excessive regulations that harm our economy. 

Turn on the news and you’ll see evidence of an American energy boom. Major oil producers, from Syria to Libya and points in between, have faced a steady stream of unrest. Ten years ago, these events would have sent oil prices through the roof; today prices are falling. 

The critical difference is American energy flooding the market. Our refined products fill gas tanks around the world. The light and medium crude oil we would have imported years ago is staying in the global market. 

Energy production pulled our economy out of a recession, in spite of the administration’s efforts to regulate it out of existence. American energy is good for our economy and our allies abroad. In many parts of the world, energy-producing countries use their energy to hold their neighbors hostage. According to NATO, Russia is behind anti-fracking events across Europe to strengthen opposition to domestic European gas. Hurt Europe, hurt America. 

Thanks to American innovation, we sit on decades’ worth of natural gas, which allows us to help our allies across the globe. That’s why increasing exports of natural gas will be high on the agenda this upcoming congress. Any discussion of natural gas exports also brings us to the current debate on crude oil exports. In my view, this discussion calls to mind an energy Hippocratic oath: first do no harm. 

American diesel and other “refined products” already stream out of Houston — but crude is different. The decision on whether or not to widen exports of U.S. crude oil must be handled delicately. I don’t expect sweeping changes overnight, but we should have a healthy debate on the topic. Studies are coming out that assess any impact that oil exports could have on the American consumer, if any. The next major step will be debate and hearings in my committee and other relevant committees, which I expect to happen very soon. 

We must also ensure a proper balance of regulations affecting the energy sector. Impacts on the energy sector spill over to every aspect of our economy. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been hard at work issuing damaging rules that, if fully implemented, could crush our nation’s fragile recovery. 

While much of America has made important improvements in air quality, many areas are still struggling to meet the current ozone standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb). The EPA just issued a proposed rule to lower the current standard to between 65 ppb and 70 ppb, with a request for comment at a dangerously low 60 ppb. The National Association of Manufacturers has estimated that at 60 ppb, this rule would cost our economy upwards of $2 trillion over 10 years, not to mention the EPA itself admits many areas simply don’t have the technology to achieve these lower standards. 

Under current law, the agency cannot consider economic costs or feasibility. That’s why I introduced H.R. 5505, the Clean Air, Strong Economies (CASE) Act. This bipartisan, bicameral bill states that the EPA must consider the economic impacts and feasibility of its regulations while still focusing on protecting human health. The CASE Act also prevents the EPA from updating the current standard until at least 85 percent of counties in the country have come into compliance with the existing rule. This would ensure communities are not constantly having the goal posts changed mid-game. 

As we begin a new session, the Energy and Commerce Committee will be hard at work developing sound energy policy and working to rein in an EPA all too willing to ignore the economic realities that come with its hard-line regulatory agenda.

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