Tag Archives: U.S. House of Representatives

House rejects effort to divert funding from new projects to railroad safety

Repost from NJ.com

House rejects N.J. Rep. Garrett’s effort to divert funding to railroad safety

By Jonathan D. Salant, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com The Star-Ledger, June 05, 2015 at 9:33 AM

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Thursday rejected an effort by Rep. Scott Garrett to use some money earmarked for new transit projects to improve safety on existing lines instead.

By a vote of 266-160, the House defeated Garrett’s attempt to amend the transportation spending bill and transfer $17 million to the Federal Railroad Administration’s safety account from the funds earmarked for new construction.

“You wouldn’t put an addition on your house if the roof was caving in,” said Garrett (R-5th Dist.). “So why are we prioritizing new transit projects before funding the safety of our existing lines?”

Garrett’s amendment was supposed by three other members of the state’s congressional delegation, Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.), Leonard Lance (R-7th Dist.) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.). The other eight House members from New Jersey voted no.

“Just this year we have seen two oil train derailments and over a dozen Amtrak-related accidents, including the tragic crash in Philadelphia that claimed eight lives and injured dozens more,” Garrett said. “I am disappointed that the House ignored the call of our constituents by voting against this common-sense amendment.”

The transportation spending bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 cuts Amtrak funding by $251 million to $1.14 billion. President Obama sought $2.45 billion.

The measure passed the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee one day after the May 12 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured more than 200.

US House approves $279 million renewable energy cut; raises funding for fossil fuel research by $34 million

Press Release from Friends of the Earth
[Editor:  As you might expect, this travesty was passed on a nearly complete party line vote, with 230 Republicans and 10 Dems in favor.  Dems voting FOR the bill included:  A. Dutch Ruppersberger MD, Ami Bera CA, Brad Ashford NE, Collin Peterson MN, Doris Matsui CA, Filemon Vela TX, Gene Green TX, Henry Cuellar TX, Jim Costa CA, and William Keating MA.  Republicans voting AGAINST the bill included: Christopher Gibson NY, James Sensenbrenner Jr. WI, Joseph Heck NV, Justin Amash MI, Mo Brooks AL, Thomas Massie KY, Walter Jones Jr. NC.   Track the bill here.  – RS]

House approves $279 million renewable energy cut

By: Kate Colwell, May. 1, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives passed H.R. 2028, “The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016,” by a vote of 240-177.

The bill sets funding levels for important programs within the U.S. Departments of Energy, Interior, and the Army Corps of Engineers. While staying within the limits set by the sequester, the bill manages to raise funding for fossil fuel research by $34 million from 2015 levels while cutting renewable energy and efficiency research by $279 million. Simultaneously, it is packed with policy riders that undermine bedrock environmental laws like the Clean Water Act and limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to study the dangers of hydraulic fracturing.

Friends of the Earth Climate and Energy Campaigner Lukas Ross issued the following statement in response:

Shoveling more of our tax dollars into the pockets of ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers while defunding clean energy is climate denial at its worst. Fossil fuel interests don’t need more money. Solutions to the climate crisis do.

From hobbling the Clean Water Act to limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to even study fracking, House Speaker John Boehner is continuing his assault on the air we breathe and the water we drink.


Expert contact: Lukas Ross, (202) 222-0724, lross@foe.org
Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org

House subcommittee hears arguments on crude exports ban

Repost from Reuters

U.S. lawmakers give preview of coming oil export fight

By Timothy Gardner, Dec 11, 2014

(Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers gave a preview on Thursday of a looming fight next year on lifting the ban on crude exports with supporters saying it would sustain the drilling boom and others questioning its impacts on industry and fuel prices.

In a House of Representatives hearing on the ban, Texas Republican Joe Barton said exporting oil would boost the economy, lower gas prices, and help give allies alternative oil supplies to Russia.

By some measures the United States is the world’s top oil producer and Barton said the country should use that power.

“When you’re number one, you use that status,” said Barton, who introduced a short, 1.5 page bill this week to lift the ban Congress passed in 1975 after the Arab oil embargo.

The U.S. drilling boom of the last five or six years has led to a glut of light crude many oil refiners, who paid dearly to retool plants to run heavy crude, are unable to easily process.

Barton’s fellow Republican, Lisa Murkowski, an Alaskan and the incoming Senate energy chairman, and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, are big supporters of removing the ban. They face an uphill battle in both Houses of Congress in getting widespread support.

Many lawmakers from states with economies that are heavily dependent on energy are concerned they could see higher costs from U.S. oil exports. Barton’s fellow Republicans Representatives John Shimkus, and David McKinley of West Virginia, and Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, questioned the panel of oil market experts at the hearing on how industry would be affected by lifting the ban.

Pitts asked Adam Sieminski, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, if there was a guarantee lifting the ban would remove volatility in gasoline prices. Sieminski said there was a chance U.S. oil exports could cause global crude prices to rise temporarily if they caused unrest in an oil producing nation.

He stressed that U.S. gasoline prices are mostly based on global Brent crude prices, which many analysts say should fall in the long term if the U.S. ban is lifted.

Shimkus said he has “tons of questions” about removing the ban.

As pressure builds to lift the trade restriction, the U.S. Department of Commerce has told at least three companies that they can export a minimally-processed light crude called condensate.

Oil producers want the Obama administration to allow all condensate to be exported as a first step in removing the ban. There are no signs this will happen soon.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has said the administration is looking at the oil export issue but there have been no policy changes. Froman told CNBC on Thursday the domestic oil boom has helped draw more investment to the United States and made it “a place where companies want to put their factories both to serve the U.S. market but also to export (products) all over the world.”

Murkowski has said she will introduce legislation, perhaps next year, to lift the ban if the administration does not take action.

(Additional reporting by Krista Hughes; editing by Andrew Hay)