Republicans plan retreat to bash Biden energy agenda

Via E&E Daily

House Republicans have more plans to travel in the coming months to promote their “all-of-the-above” energy platform — and bash the Biden administration’s environmental agenda.

Their next high-profile trip will be to Oklahoma, “a traditional oil and gas producer [that] has embraced innovation to strengthen the state’s energy industry and strengthen America’s energy security,” according to an invitation shared with E&E News.

The “Spring Energy and Field Tour,” at this point scheduled to take place in late April in Tulsa and Grand Lake, will be the first joint retreat of the Congressional Western Caucus and the House Energy Action Team, or HEAT.

The Congressional Western Caucus, now chaired by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), is technically a bipartisan organization that in the previous Congress had only one Democratic member, Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader.

HEAT is made up entirely of Republicans, revived in 2019 by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and co-chaired by Reps. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma and Jeff Duncan of South Carolina.

The two groups typically do their own excursions over the course of a normal, nonpandemic year. But the decision to now join forces highlights for the GOP both the political urgency of the moment and the opportunity the party sees to leverage anxiety around Democrats’ energy policies into electoral gains in 2022.

“The most important thing is to show people across the country what President Biden is doing to decimate the energy industry in America,” said Scalise, who plans to participate in the Oklahoma trip, in a recent interview with E&E News.

“I think people are alarmed how quickly [Biden] moved to kill millions of jobs from the Keystone pipeline … and a complete ban on leases and permits, which are going to kill millions of jobs in the energy sector throughout the country, and how it’s hurting families,” Scalise continued.

He was referring to a pair of executive orders Biden issued in his first week in office, one to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and the other to put a pause on issuing new oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands and waters.

As for the upcoming retreat, Scalise described it as “a way for members of Congress to come together, be on the ground and see things right there in person and also meet with workers, the actual people who are producing energy in America and talking about the importance of those jobs for their families and for those communities, and how a smart energy strategy works to reduce carbon emissions and create the jobs and energy security in America.”

It’s also a chance, he added, “to highlight the damage [Biden’s executive orders] will do to families [and] school systems that need that money to run their systems. In Louisiana, we use the money from drilling that’s generated off the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico to restore our coasts. … I think people need to see the devastating impact that these radical Biden Green New Deal initiatives are having on families and on our environment.”

Participants on the retreat are expected to learn about hydropower and wind energy, and potentially tour a wind manufacturing facility in the Tulsa district of HEAT member and Republican Rep. Kevin Hern.

“This is a great chance for the Caucus and the House Energy Action Team to partner up and help further educate ourselves on our nation’s diverse, all-of-the-above energy resources while also discussing some of the really concerning actions we’re seeing come out of the White House with President Biden’s executive orders,” Newhouse said in a statement to E&E News.

While the Oklahoma visit is not being billed as a GOP leadership-led endeavor, Scalise’s participation will give the trip some extra cachet as the national party seeks to elevate energy issues to the forefront of political campaigns, even well in advance of the 2022 midterms.

Scalise also won’t be the first member of House GOP leadership to get outside of Washington to amplify the party’s messaging on this topic, which they see ripe for helping Republicans retake control of the chamber.

Last month, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) led delegations to Texas on two separate occasions to visit oil fields and refineries, then participate in press conferences against industrial backdrops to slam the “Biden bans” (E&E Daily, Feb. 3).

And yet another group of roughly two dozen Republicans recently traveled to Utah to meet with advocates and think tank experts to discuss how to effectively talk about climate change (E&E Daily, Feb. 25).

Calling Biden’s actions “harmful and restrictive approaches to American energy policy [that] are wrong for America,” Newhouse pledged that he and his colleagues would “continue to call these actions out for being just that — wrong for the country — while also offering our solutions and our support for pro-American energy solutions.”