The United States is in the midst of an energy revolution like we’ve never seen before. Thanks to technological advances and American ingenuity, we have unlocked a wealth of new energy resources and are now one of the world’s leading energy producers. However, more can, and should, be done to capitalize on our newfound energy abundance. The Energy and Commerce Committee has worked over the last year and a half on a vision I call the Architecture of Abundance. It’s a plan that seeks to usher American energy policies into the 21st century by updating the laws on the books, which were written during a time of energy scarcity, to reflect our newfound era of energy abundance.
H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, is the culmination of our efforts to capitalize on America’s energy potential. We have prioritized jobs, energy security, and improving our energy infrastructure to ensure affordable energy continues to flow to folks in Michigan and across the country. At its core, H.R. 8 boils down to four main pillars – modernizing our energy infrastructure, protecting our electricity system, strengthening our energy security and diplomacy, and improving energy efficiency and government accountability.
Modernizing Energy Infrastructure
Like many of our energy policies, the nation’s natural gas pipeline infrastructure has failed to keep up with increased production and demand for natural gas in the U.S. Falling behind has hurt American businesses and consumers and is holding the United States back from becoming the world’s leading energy superpower. H.R. 8 takes an important step forward in promoting safe natural gas pipeline development that protects local interests and gets this clean-burning fuel safely to consumers, businesses, and our allies around the globe.
Protecting the Electricity System
America’s electricity grid has also failed to keep pace with our 21st century realities. Today, we face growing threats to our electric grid in the form of cyber-attacks, electromagnetic pulse, severe weather, and seismic events like earthquakes. Disruptions in the delivery of electricity have far-reaching economic and public health impacts. To combat these potential threats, H.R. 8 recognizes the need to modernize and secure our electric grid by enhancing our emergency preparedness and promoting advanced grid technologies to help us establish a more modern, flexible, and resilient grid.
Strengthening Energy Security and Diplomacy
As the globe’s leading producer of petroleum and natural gas, the United States is emerging as a global energy superpower – and an important component of H.R. 8 is strengthening our energy security here at home and our energy diplomacy with our allies abroad. Recent roundtable discussions with members of the European Parliament brought to light our shared ideas and common goals, and through strong relationships and collaboration, we can more effectively advance our collective energy security interests.
Members of the European Parliament expressed their eagerness to utilize America’s vast natural gas supplies, which offer the opportunity to reduce and stabilize prices, and increase European energy security. H.R. 8 expedites the approval process to export liquefied natural gas. The sooner we can get our excess natural gas into European pipelines the less they have to rely on countries like Russia, who use their energy supplies to exert political pressure on import-dependent nations. Exporting American natural gas provides our allies with a safe, reliable trading partner and strengthens our collective energy security while spurring job growth and economic activity here at home.
Improving Energy Efficiency and Government Accountability
The United States’ largest energy user is the federal government and as good stewards of taxpayer dollars, we’ve worked to ensure that the federal government remains accountable. H.R. 8 contains provisions that seek to reduce government waste and prioritize budget dollars in existing programs to avoid duplicative and unnecessary spending. New technologies have the potential to save money and reduce our energy use but federal government roadblocks stand in the way. H.R. 8 plows through those roadblocks and promotes simple and affordable methods to lower electricity bills and provides important regulatory relief for manufacturers in Michigan and across the United States from onerous federal efficiency mandates.
The days of energy scarcity are long in the rear view mirror and passing H.R. 8 takes an important and necessary step forward. Pursuing policies like these four pillars that smartly embrace our abundance deserve wide bipartisan agreement. Ensuring access to reliable and affordable energy for decades to come should be an idea we can all rally around. This week, the House of Representatives has an opportunity to say yes to American energy while making our energy infrastructure more resilient and creating jobs.
Rep. Fred Upton is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a Republican congressman from Michigan.