Lower Energy Costs Act

Floor Speech

Date: March 28, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Chair, I rise today in opposition to this legislation. First, I thank the ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee for yielding.

Climate change is an existential threat to the United States and the world. Without action to reduce emissions, the damage to our Nation, economy, and future generations will be immeasurable.

Americans understand the severity of this moment. That is why polling shows that most Americans want to prioritize the development of alternative energy sources over expanding the production of fossil fuels.

The bill before us today will do the exact opposite. H.R. 1, the polluters over people act, is a brazen giveaway to the oil, gas, and mining industries.

As Big Oil reaps record profits thanks to billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, this bill will rubberstamp the construction of new natural gas pipelines and shut government agencies out of the review process.

H.R. 1 will also mandate the auctioning of our public lands for oil and gas leases, make it easier to export liquefied natural gas to foreign adversaries, and allow oil companies to price gouge working families.

This bill effectively gives energy companies a license to pollute. Simply put, it is a disaster for our environment and our fight against climate change.

Americans do not want energy policy to come at the expense of public health. Many of my constituents have suffered for years from air pollution emitted from a local plant that runs on burning natural gas and fuel oil. This pollution has resulted in generations of families developing asthma in what is colloquially known as asthma alley.

H.R. 1 will encourage this dangerous pollution in communities across the country. That is why I have submitted two amendments. One will protect these at-risk localities by removing restrictions preventing individuals from suing in response to a violation of NEPA if they bring a claim related to protecting public health. My second amendment would require publicly traded companies to disclose their goals and actions related to greenhouse gas emissions and meeting the goals of the Paris climate accord.

These amendments were rejected by the Rules Committee, as were over 90 percent of the amendments proposed by my Democratic colleagues. So much for the open amendment process Republicans promised when they took over the majority.

H.R. 1 is a reckless bill that empowers polluters to boost profits for Republicans' industry friends.

Last year, Democrats acted to lower energy costs for working families and weaken our dependence on fossil fuels by passing the Inflation Reduction Act. The IRA was the largest-ever investment in fighting climate change while creating thousands of good-paying jobs, attracting billions of dollars in investment, and lowering the average American family's energy costs by about $1,800 a year.

H.R. 1 seeks to reverse the progress we have made since passing the IRA. Mr. Chairman, this bill will take us backward both economically and environmentally, and I urge my colleagues to oppose it.