Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA01) voted in lock step with his Republican colleagues to pass the Strategic Production Response Act (H.R. 21) on Friday, which critics say undermines consumer protections and threatens the environment.
GOP House members made no attempt to conceal their intention to exploit the environment or constituent wallets.
“To provide for the development of a plan to increase oil and gas production under oil and gas leases of Federal lands… in conjunction with a drawdown of petroleum reserves from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” reads the intro to H.R. 21.
Realistically, the benefactors of H.R. 21 are the fossil fuel companies and the GOP politicians who accept financial contributions from Big Oil. There are no benefits for constituents.
In the 2022 election cycle, according to Open Secrets, Fitzpatrick accepted $22,000 from oil and gas producers.
The bill, which will likely die in the Senate, restricts the use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and mandates the exploitation of public lands and waters for fossil fuel extraction. Democrats attempted to attach amendments to H.R. 21 to exclude a multitude of land parcels from fossil fuel exploitation with no success.
“Fossil fuel companies are already swimming in record profits, but House Republicans are using one of their first legislative opportunities to auction off our public lands for more drilling,” said Martin Hayden, Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation. “Ramping down fossil fuel extraction and transitioning to clean energy are our best opportunity to protect ourselves from the worst impacts of climate change, insulate families from volatile energy prices, and ensure that we reach our climate goals. At a time when we’re seeing the impacts of climate change every day, this bill would lock in decades of fossil fuel drilling that we simply cannot afford.”
Chevron just recorded $36.5 billion in profits in 2022, more than double what they brought home the previous year. Moreso, a CNBC analysis projects that with Chevron, the combined profit of oil giants Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell and TotalEnergies could reach $190 billion.
“Big Oil’s price gouging hasn’t only hurt consumers at the pump, but driven up the cost of everything from groceries to school supplies,” said Jamie Henn, a spokesperson for Stop The Oil Profiteering (STOP). “This ‘fossilflation’ has been the source of economic pain for hundreds of millions of Americans … Big Oil is rolling in cash while families are struggling to heat their homes or fill their gas tanks.”
Last year, when gas prices were skyrocketing, the Biden administration facilitated the release and sale of oil from the SPR to successfully lower prices at the pump. Then, when oil prices lowered, the U.S. Government began to refill the reserve at a reduced cost.
Biden’s win-win for consumers and the country did not bode well for Republicans who could no longer use high prices at the pump as midterm election talking point.