The House passed a series of Republican-written bills that aim to boost U.S. energy production.
Lawmakers voted 229-185 to expand oil and gas exploration offshore and on federal land, and to require the Interior Department to move forward on lease sales that have been delayed by the Obama administration. The bill sets a 60-day deadline on government approval of drilling permits and would charge environmentalists $5,000 to protest decisions.
“Our economic malaise can be attributed to a lack of attention to a commonsense energy program on federal lands,” said Congressman Rob Bishop, D-Utah.
He said the bill would “go after where the resources actually are.”
Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Calif., said the bill was “yet another example of the (Republican) majority’s backward energy policy that doubles down on dirty fossil fuels instead of investing in a clean energy future.”
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., voted for the bill. Congressman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., did not vote.
The House also voted 266-150 to fast-track applications by energy companies seeking to export liquefied natural gas to Europe and Japan.
Supporters said expediting LNG exports could help Ukraine, for instance, ease its energy dependence on Russia.
“The passage of this bill will move the United States yet another step closer to both assisting our allies abroad as well as creating a more robust domestic industry at home,” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas.
Opponents said exports will not start flowing overnight, and could cause domestic gasoline prices to rise. “This bill is a solution in search of a problem,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “The Department of Energy is already aggressively approving LNG exports. Passing this bill will not magically solve the natural gas problem in Ukraine or in other parts of the world.”
Beutler voted for the bill. Kilmer did not vote.
The House voted 238-173 for a bill that would require oil and gas pipelines and electricity transmission lines that cross into Mexico or Canada to be reviewed by the State Department or Energy Department within 120 days of an environmental review. It would remove the need for presidential approval that critics say is holding up the Keystone XL pipeline, although the bill does not cover that project. The White House threatened to veto the bill if it reached President Obama’s desk, saying the deadlines were “unreasonable.”
Herrera Beutler voted for the bill. Kilmer voted against it.
The Senate voted last week to reauthorize more than 30 job training programs while scrapping 15 others and changing the way many train people and help them find jobs.
In a rare bipartisan display, senators voted 95-3 for the bill that was a compromise between Republicans who wanted to streamline job programs and Democrats who wanted to modernize them. A version of the bill has passed the House.
“We’ve doubled down on the programs that work,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “We’ve improved the programs that have become outdated. And we’ve created a workforce system that’s more nimble and adaptable, better aligned with our businesses.”
Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both D-Wash., voted for the bill.