Congressional differences over energy policy pit Republicans' advocacy of fossil fuels against Democrats' push for renewable energy. (Shutterstock)


The House on May 23, 2023, voted to nullify a four-month-old Environmental Protection Agency rule placing stricter emission standards on buses and heavy-duty trucks ranging from full-size pickups to 18-wheelers. The rule is designed to reduce emissions of ozone, particulate matter and other pollutants starting with the 2027 model year in the first upgrade of clean-air standards for heavy-duty vehicles in 20 years. The rule is projected to achieve a nearly 50 percent cut by 2045 in vehicle emissions of nitrogen oxide formed by the burning of fossil fuels. The resolution of disapproval (SJ Res 11), adopted by a vote of 221 for and 203 against, would kill the rule.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Supporter Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, called the rule “just the latest step by the Biden administration to electrify the transportation sector and burden American families in the process… The cost of these senseless regulations would inevitably be passed on to the American consumer through higher retail prices and increased inflation.”

Opponent Kathy Castor, D-Fla., said: “Think about your friends and family members with asthma or heart disease or some kind of lung infection….It is important to tackle the problem of heavy-duty trucks and buses. Why? They constitute about 6 percent of the vehicles on the road but 59 percent of smog-producing elements….nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter.”

A yes vote was to send the resolution to the Senate, where its prospects were uncertain.


The House on April 28 voted to revoke an executive order by President Biden intended to spur imports of photovoltaic cells and modules used in the manufacture of solar-energy panels in the United States. The Republican-sponsored resolution of disapproval (HJ Res 39) was adopted by a tally of 221 for and 202 against. Biden suspended antidumping penalties and countervailing duties on solar gear that originates in China before assembly in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam and shipment to the United States. He said he did so to meet increased demand for domestic solar construction spurred by his green-energy policies, while critics said it is wrong to import products that can be traced to forced labor in China.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Supporter Bill Posey, R-Fla., said Biden’s order “will benefit the Chinese Communist Party, make no mistake about that. They are  not our friends, they are our enemy… Unfortunately, some believe we must tolerate China’s bad decisions and remain dependent on adversarial nations to create renewable energy.”

Opponent Judy Chu, D-Calif., said the order “created a short-term bridge to secure the solar materials needed to protect jobs and meet our energy transition… While the emergency order is not perfect, it’s necessary to give solar projects here in the pipeline enough time to come into full compliance with our trade laws.”

A yes vote was to send the resolution to the Senate, where its prospects were uncertain.


Voting 225 for and 204 against, the House on March 30, 2023, passed a Republican-sponsored bill (HR 1) intended to increase production of oil, natural gas and coal in the United States while rolling back long-standing environmental laws and Biden administration clean-energy measures to achieve its objectives. Projected by the Congressional Budget Office to add $2.4 billion to the national debt over 10 years, the legislation was hailed by GOP backers as a boost to American prosperity and security but faulted by Democratic critics as a retreat from efforts to curb climate change.

In part, the bill would:

  • Resume lease sales for drilling and natural gas exploration on federal land and waters but retain a moratorium on drilling offshore from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
  • Repeal a Biden administration-backed tax on methane emissions; increase U.S. Geological Survey support of the uranium industry; repeal administration policies against coal mining; prohibit any moratorium on hydraulic fracking and expedite hard-rock mining on federal lands under the Mining Law of 1872.
  • Authorize Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency waivers exempting refineries from laws including the Clean Air Act and National Environmental Policy Act and weaken reviews under NEPA of environmental, health, and economic impacts of policy decisions by over 80 federal agencies.
  • Enable the EPA to waive Clean Air Act and Solid Waste Disposal Act provisions that govern discharges from fracking operations, coal mines and nuclear power plants, and waive provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act to speed review of new chemicals used by energy firms.
  • Repeal a section of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act providing state and local governments with $1 billion in grants over several years for improving residential and commercial energy codes.
  • Repeal the Inflation Reduction Act’s Greenhouse Gas Production Fund, which allocates $27 billion over several years to infrastructure projects that would improve air quality in poor communities.
  • Expedite liquefied natural gas exports by removing a requirement that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finds them to be in the public interest.
  • Provide incentives to increase production of critical minerals used in products including electric vehicles and cellphones.
  • Limit judicial review of environmental challenges to energy projects by shortening statutes of limitations and prohibiting injunctive relief in some court filings.
  • Limit presidential authority to protect pristine federal lands on the basis of natural, cultural or scientific significance while easing Clean Water Act licensing and permitting requirements aimed at protecting water resources on tribal lands.

Floor Debate, Pro & Con:

Supporter Mark Alford, R-Mo., said Republicans “promised the American people that we would make sure they could fill up their trucks… make it affordable to heat their homes. We promised to fight the woke green New Deal policies that are killing our energy sector. This legislation does just that. It will increase domestic energy production. It will reform the permitting process for all industries. It will reverse the anti-energy policies being perpetrated by the Biden administration… American energy producers make the cleanest energy in the world. Let’s not only make America energy independent — let’s make America energy dominant.”

Opponent Jim McGovern, D-Mass., called the bill “a dirty energy, pro-polluter plan that would drag our economy back decades… It makes it easier for companies to strip public lands of their resources and harder to hold corporate polluters accountable for the mess they make. It gives more handouts to Big Oil as if the industry’s CEOs and shareholders haven’t already raked in enough money with record profits over the last few years. It guts half a century of environmental protections that ensure the air we breathe and the water we drink is clean, and it sets our country back as the rest of the world moves toward a clean energy future…“

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it was destined to fail.