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Pallone Floor Remarks on Republican Energy Bill that is a Giveaway to Big Oil & Raises Gas Prices at the Pump

Jan 26, 2023
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following remarks as prepared for delivery on the House floor today in opposition to H.R. 21, the Strategic Production Response Act:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 21, the “Strategic Production Response Act.”

Once again, House Republicans are showing their true colors – bringing a bill to the floor that helps their Big Oil friends and hurts hardworking Americans. This is a reckless and extreme bill. It will hamstring the single most important tool the Biden Administration has used to fight Putin’s price hike on gasoline.

By releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the Biden Administration helped bring down gas prices by over $1.50 per gallon. Republicans call that “politicizing” the SPR. I call that providing real relief to the American people at the gas pump.

And now, after promising to lower costs for American families, House Republicans want to pass this bill that will raise gas prices at the pump. And make no mistake: that’s exactly what this bill would do. It would prevent the Department of Energy from using the SPR to respond to price spikes until Big Oil is given open access to drill on public lands.

Restricting the federal government’s best tool for decreasing prices in the middle of a global energy crisis defies logic. After all, this is a tool that Administrations of both parties – Democrat and Republican – have used in the past.

It’s baffling to see the Republicans oppose President Biden’s release of oil from the SPR considering that in recent years, Republican administrations withdrew even more due to oil sales that they themselves mandated when they were in control of Congress. House Republicans have also used the SPR as a piggy bank to withdraw nearly 300 million barrels of oil to pay for their priorities. Yet now they want to feign outrage that President Biden withdrew fewer barrels to lower prices at the pump. This is not serious legislation, but instead a political stunt.

Republicans are just upset that President Biden stood up and actually used all the tools at his disposal to fight back against high gas prices for American families.

This bill, H.R. 21, actually fights against American families. The Secretary of Energy was clear in a letter she wrote to Chair Rodgers and me last week – and I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of that letter into the record. Secretary Granholm wrote that by hamstringing the Administration, this bill will result in, and I’m quoting, “more oil supply shortages in times of crisis and higher gasoline prices for Americans.”

The President also recognizes this bill is a bad deal for the American people and that’s why he said he would veto it if it ever got to his desk. I also ask unanimous consent to insert the text of the Statement of Administration Policy into the record.

It is frankly stunning that after two years of talking such a big game on energy security and energy independence, one of the Republicans’ first bills this Congress is a proposal that would seriously undermine both.

The truth is that the Republicans’ decades-old “drill, baby, drill” mentality is outdated, reckless, and simply cannot and will not protect Americans from the volatile price movements of a global commodity. Our country has adopted this mentality for decades, and it hasn’t worked.

The United States is already the world’s top producer of both oil and gas, and the fossil fuel industry already controls large portions of U.S. public lands and waters – and it isn’t using most of it. Right now, fossil fuel companies control over 26 million acres of U.S. public lands – half of which is going unused. The problem is not a shortage of land or leases. Republicans only want the American people to think that’s the case because they want to keep doing the bidding of Big Oil.

But the bottom line is, Big Oil doesn't want to pump more oil, and doubling down on our fossil fuel dependency is exactly what has kept us dependent on a global market – a market largely controlled by dictators and adversaries on the other side of the world.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is not serious. It is yet another old, tired, one-page bill that shows just how antiquated and misplaced Republican priorities are. We should be spending our time on serious, thoughtful proposals that actually address our energy challenges and opportunities, that lower gas prices as opposed to raising them, and that ensure Americans and their jobs don’t get left behind as the rest of the world transitions to clean energy.

I strongly urge my colleagues to oppose this bill and I reserve the balance of my time.