Cover sheet of the U.S. Senate bill S.1460, 'Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017'. Graphic: U.S. Senate / 115th Congress

By Wenonah Hauter and Bill Mckibben
15 July 2017

(The Hill) – In a frantic attempt to demonstrate that Senate Republicans are capable of governing despite their shameful attempt to yank health insurance away from 22 million Americans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved in late June to advance a huge, 800-page energy bill to the Senate floor. In his rush to get something — anything — done, he bypassed the standard committee review process and pushed the legislation straight to the full Senate floor.

There are plenty of compelling reasons for Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) to marshal Democratic opposition to McConnell’s bad energy bill. The most basic is that Republicans and the Trump administration are clamoring for a win — literally anything they can point to as business getting done. They seek to strip healthcare from many of the most vulnerable Americans in order to generate huge tax cuts for the wealthiest few. This deplorable intention alone should motivate Democrats to resist everything Trump and the Republicans seek, including McConnell’s energy bill.

But there’s more to the story. This bill, the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, is a shameless giveaway to the polluting oil and gas industry. It would lock in our country’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels for decades to come and intentionally undermine critical state and federal efforts to promote clean, renewable energy — our only path to staving off the worst effects of impending climate chaos.

McConnell’s energy package would speed approval of exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission more power to approve natural gas pipelines and spend nearly $200 million researching how to access methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 87-times more greenhouse gas heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, beneath the ocean floor.

Expediting the build-out of fossil fuel infrastructure takes us in exactly the wrong direction at a time when we must urgently transition to a low-carbon economy. Building LNG export terminals would lead to expanded hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) across the country, meaning the development of new pipelines, new compressor stations and new gas storage facilities.

Increased fracking for natural gas would also feed the construction of new gas-fired power plants for domestic energy consumption — to say nothing of the inherent risks to air, water and human health fracking imposes on front-line communities where it occurs.

Even with the incredible profit margins built into global fossil fuel markets, such large scale investment in new natural gas infrastructure will require decades to be recouped by corporations. Once pipelines are laid, export terminals are completed and wells are fracked, we can be sure such infrastructure will be operated until profits are returned. By that time, decades from now, it will be far too late to save us. [more]

Senate energy bill would fan the flames of climate change

By Janet Redman
11 July 2017

(Oil Change International) – The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (S.1460) would pave the way for fossil fuel expansion, locking in decades of dirty energy and undermining the necessary clean energy transition.

The best available science shows an urgent need move off fossil fuels to avoid severe disruptions to our communities, our economy, and the planet. Burning the oil, gas, and coal reserves in already operating wells and mines would take us beyond globally agreed climate limits. Promoting new fossil fuels in the face of our climate crisis represents the latest form of climate denial. We simply cannot afford new infrastructure that expands fossil fuels.

Yet, this dirty energy bill:

Speeds up approval of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals [Sec. 2201]

The bill requires the Department of Energy to issue a decision on whether to authorize large-scale infrastructure projects within 45 days of issuance of the final environmental review. This rushes the timeline for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to thoroughly evaluate the review and undercuts the public’s ability to ensure that projects will not harm communities and ecosystems impacted by terminals and related pipelines, storage facilities and other infrastructure.

More LNG export terminals means more gas pipelines, more fracking, and more climate pollution.

Forces federal and state agencies to give “deference” to FERC in gas project review process [Sec. 3103]

FERC has a long history of rubber-stamping gas pipelines and other infrastructure projects while ignoring concerns raised by economists, climate scientists, and impacted communities about avoidable costs and environmental harm. S.1460 makes FERC the lead in ensuring gas projects comply with the National Environmental Policy Act - cutting off avenues for communities to appeal to state and other federal agencies to help stop pipelines. The bill also requires any federal or state agency, local government or tribe participating in the review process make a final decision no later than 90 days after FERC considers an application to be complete, making it all but impossible for impacted communities to wade through complex project documents and raise challenges in time. Rushing FERC to approve a natural gas buildout would undermine the public interest and U.S. climate goals.

Wastes billions on boondoggle coal projects [Sec. 3402]

In an act of climate denial and ignoring clear trends in the national energy market, the bill establishes a new coal technology program to “ensure the continued use of the abundant, domestic coal resources.” It authorizes $3.1 billion over 5 years for carbon capture research, development, and demonstration projects - even as the nation’s premiere “clean coal” power plant shutters its doors. Unproven and energy-intensive technologies like carbon capture do nothing to protect communities from the full impacts of coal power - from mining, to transport, to coal ash disposal.

More handouts to dirty energy development

In addition, S.1460 sets up a pilot program to streamline the review and approval of permits to drill for oil and gas on the nation’s public lands [Sec. 3104], and authorizes Congress to spend $175 million on research and development for extracting methane hydrates [Sec. 3101] - another potential source of fossil fuel that we cannot afford to burn.

No love for renewables

Surprisingly, fast-growing and increasingly cost-competitive wind and solar power get little mention in this bill. And the renewable energy provisions that are included are undermined by support for fossil fuel infrastructure that would entrench dirty energy in our country’s power mix and put us on a path to climate chaos.

Vote “no” on S. 1460

Expediting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure undermines what the American people want and need - action on climate change and the creation of good jobs in the sustainable energy sector. Passing the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 would be a giveaway to the oil, gas, and coal industry and an act of climate denial.


Janet Redman
Oil Change International

Dirty Distraction: The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (S.1460)


  1. Anonymous said...

    I'm not a democrat, republican, independent or liberal. Yet I still find Republicans the stupidest species on the planet. Our government is SOOO out of touch with reality and what the nation actually needs that it blows my mind. MORE fossil fuel infrastructure? Unbelievable.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    Look, the planet is toast OK? It's done, stick a fork in it! Is that really so bad? Really? Seriously, just relax, go have a beer.  


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