Maine leaders react to energy bill vote

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:15 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WABI) - House Republicans have passed a sprawling energy package that would counter virtually all of President Biden’s agenda to address climate change.

The bill would sharply increase domestic production of oil, natural gas and coal, and ease permitting restrictions that delay pipelines, refineries and other projects.

It would boost production of critical minerals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt that are used in electric vehicles, computers, cellphones and other products.

Democrats call the bill a giveaway to big oil companies.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the bill is “dead on arrival” in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, voted against the bill and said in a statement:

“Under President Biden, Congressional Democrats have made historic progress in our collective fight against climate change—all while lowering consumer costs and creating good-paying green jobs. But with H.R. 1, House Republicans are threatening that progress, emboldening the fossil fuel industry, eliminating protections that keep our communities safe, and doing nothing to lower energy costs.

“Coming just one week after the world’s leading scientists issued a stark warning that humanity is quite literally on thin ice and nearing climate disaster, Republicans pushed forward with their energy bill that puts polluters over people, making H.R. 1 all the more dangerous and utterly disturbing. I strongly oppose this bill and proudly voted against its passage today. Although it passed the House, it’s reassuring to know that if H.R. 1 makes it to the president’s desk, he will use his executive power to veto it and ensure we move forward on climate action, not backwards.”

Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, was one of just four Democrats to vote for the bill. He said in a statement:

“Our nation’s permitting process is fundamentally broken. Right now, we are hamstringing our ability to make smart investments in critical infrastructure projects from roads and bridges to energy pipelines and renewable energy projects. The reforms outlined in HR 1 are a good first step toward creating a permitting process that cuts red tape, increases our energy capacity, and lowers energy prices at a time when our constituents are still facing sky-high costs.

“There are also a number of flaws in HR 1 that must be removed before this bill becomes law, namely the partisan roll back of many provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Removing rebates that are going to help everyday Americans lower their energy bills by providing financial assistance for the installation of heat pumps, energy efficient wood stoves, windows, doors, and more does nothing to help lower people’s energy bills.

“Getting permitting reform across the finish line is too important for our economy and our nation’s future to let it fail due to a lack of compromise between two political parties. The Senate should now take up permitting reform legislation and send the House back a bill that sets aside the partisan fights and focuses on a strong compromise that will be signed into law. We must unleash the full potential of future investments in our nation’s energy and transportation infrastructure, ensure that the once in a generation investments that were made through the IRA and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law can be fully realized, and meaningfully lower energy costs for my constituents.”