Lower Energy Costs Act

Floor Speech

Date: March 28, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chair, today I rise in urgent opposition to the Republicans' H.R. 1.

Last week, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its final report. Their message couldn't be clearer. We have a lot to do and very little time to do it before the ticking climate bomb we are living in goes off.

I want to emphasize that their message wasn't one of complete despair. There is hope. The hope hinges on two major conditions.

One, we must stop burning fossil fuels, the number one cause of climate change. And two, we must transform our energy system to a cleaner and more sustainable one now.

H.R. 1, the bill before us today, which has earned the fitting title of polluters over people act, will actively and aggressively take us backwards on both those accounts.

Looking more like a nearly 200-page love letter to polluting industries than a serious legislative effort, the polluters over people act is a laundry list of gifts and giveaways to polluting industries.

Let's look at what it does for Big Oil. For example, last year companies shattered profit records across the board by price gouging working Americans at the pump while also hoarding thousands of unused leases on our public lands and waters.

Rather than hold Big Oil accountable for this abuse, the polluters over people act lowers royalty rates, repeals interest fees, reinstates noncompetitive leasing, and forces Federal agencies to hold rock-bottom lease sales all but assuring that last year's profit records will soon be broken again.

Never to be outdone, the mining industry gets its fair share of gifts in H.R. 1, as well. Mining companies, many of which are foreign-owned, already enjoy a free-for-all on our public lands. They make a mockery of Tribal consultation, destroy sacred and special places, ruin the landscape, and leave behind a toxic mess that pollutes our water and hurts our health--all without paying a cent to the American people--not one red cent is paid in royalties.

Now included in this package is that they can use the public land for anything they want, including dumping of toxic mineral waste.

There is more, but suffice it to say, with all these handouts, it comes as no surprise that the Congressional Budget Office just reported last week that H.R. 1 will actually increase the Federal deficit.

Staying true to its name, the polluters over people act also fast- tracks dirty energy projects by gutting our bedrock environmental and public health laws; namely, the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

This is not in a new so-called permitting reform solution they have come up with to address our energy needs. This is the same ideological attack I have seen Republicans in the Natural Resources Committee launch on NEPA year after year after year.

For anyone who is being lured into thinking there are opportunities for negotiations on this bill--do not be naive. This performative permitting reform is not a bipartisan solution, not even a starting point for one.

This is just another decades-old request from polluters to make their operations cheaper and easier, while making Americans' lives harder and more costly.

It is not a serious solution to any of our energy goals. Even former President George W. Bush's head of permitting efforts has said that this bill will be ``of no statistically significant consequence.''

In fact, the polluters over people act has none of the real permitting solutions that can speed up the build-out of the clean energy infrastructure that we all need.

One of those solutions would be increasing funding for Federal permitting offices, which is exactly what Democrats did when they secured more than $1 billion in last year's historic Inflation Reduction Act. Even Republicans' own witness at a hearing called that money ``wonderful.'' No more funding is in H.R. 1.

Another solution for speeding up clean energy development is reforming the planning and cost allocation process for electrical transmission lines that can carry renewable energy from different sources across the country. But, no, you are not going to see that in H.R. 1 either.

Of course, any real permitting reform solutions would make sure to protect and empower the communities that have been disproportionately hurt by dirty energy and other polluters for decades--and that are now being hit the hardest by climate change as well.

As you can probably guess, H.R. 1 doesn't just fail to protect these communities, it silences them further, laying them bare to even more devastation, harm, and exploitation.

The polluters over people act isn't just an embarrassment of riches for polluting industries, it is an embarrassment to our communities, to our climate goals, and to this legislative body.


Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chair, we heard the term NIMBY thrown around to describe opposition to this bill. This NIMBY term, not in my backyard, is used to describe local residents, oftentimes very wealthy residents, who oppose development in their neighborhoods, but unfortunately support development of it elsewhere.

This NIMBY term is being used by some to try to discredit opposition to this bill. In reality, the groundswell of opposition of this bill comes from places that look like places behind me, not Martha's Vineyard--places like Cancer Alley along the Gulf Coast, and many other environmental justice communities across the country that millions upon millions of American call home.

Make no mistake, the greatest consequences from pollution giveaways in H.R. 1 will fall on places like the ones in this photograph that are already overburdened by industries' pollution.

Mr. Chair, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Velazquez), a member of the Natural Resources Committee.


Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Washington (Ms. DelBene).


Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chairman, let me remind my colleagues that this bill provides more handouts to foreign mining companies with terrible environmental and human rights records.

For example, Rio Tinto, a foreign-owned mining company, is preparing for a new copper mine in Arizona at a sacred site, Oak Flat. In 2020, the company knowingly and needlessly demolished a 46,000-year-old sacred Australian aboriginal site, an irreplaceable cultural artifact, to expand an iron mine.

This bill rolls out the welcome mat for even more mining by foreign- controlled companies with records of human rights violations, cultural desecration, and pollution.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Levin), who is a valued member of our committee.


Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

It is too bad that my Republican colleagues continue to point to Chinese and Russian practices to try to lower the bar for environmental and community protections in our own country. The United States should lead, and we shouldn't set our standards by China or Russia.

The American people want their protections, they want clean energy, and they want the process that allows the American people to know and to participate. This bill does none of that.

Madam Chair, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Casten).


Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Chair, just a reminder. H.R. 1, the polluters over people act, repeals the $4.5 billion home electrification rebate program designed to lower energy bills for all American families.

Madam Chair, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.)


Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Chair, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Landsman).


Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Chair, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Cartwright).


Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Chair, I yield an additional 30 seconds to the gentleman from Pennsylvania.


Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

When we were in the majority, Democrats, we passed H.R. 1. What was that about? It was not about elections. It was about our democracy. It was about protecting that democracy. After January 6, that became urgent.

Now, some might want to deny that--that was just a walk in the park, people taking a stroll. We were here. We knew what was going on, and the American people knew what was going on.

The issue of patriotism has been brought up. It is patriotic for us to oppose polluters over people. It is patriotic because we care and feel that the public health of the American people needs to be protected, that we have to deal with climate and the crisis that we are confronting.

To question the patriotism of those instincts is wrong, and we will continue to represent the American people on their most urgent needs. The future and their destinies shouldn't be turned over to Big Oil and Big Gas and the mining industry, for them to determine that future. They have to have a role, and our statutes and the protections that are in our laws need to be part of that role.

Madam Chair, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from Michigan (Ms. Tlaib).


Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Chair, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett), my good friend.


Mr. GRIJALVA. Madam Chair, the Republicans claim that they will do more to reduce emissions with this legislation than Democrats have done. I remind everyone that this legislation, the House Republican H.R. 1, has no emission reduction targets and the push is to increase fossil fuel production, which is the highest source that contributes to the climate crisis that we are facing now.

Madam Chair, I yield 6 minutes to the gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Dingell), a member of the Committee on Natural Resources.