The Hill | January 20, 2015
Our nation’s infrastructure system is critical to our national security, economy, and quality of life. Yet despite its significance, Washington frequently overlooks the necessity of energy infrastructure.
North America is now the world’s leader in energy production—a seismic change considering hysteric warnings of peak oil several years ago. This transformation greatly benefits the American people by bringing lower energy costs and more jobs. But to fully realize our energy renaissance, more is required than just increased oil and gas production.
During and after production, our resources need to be moved to our cities and communities. Right now, the way we do this is outdated—we transport small amounts of oil in tanker trucks over long distances. What’s worse, our old and inefficient system has real economic costs.
Just look at what happened last winter in the Northeast. The harsh weather spiked demand for natural gas, but because of pipeline constraints the needed supply could not be delivered. As a result, heating and electricity prices skyrocketed—up to almost double in some states compared to the national average. This winter, customers of the largest utility in Massachusetts could pay $33 more a month on top of the highs of last year.
The deficiency of our energy infrastructure also threatens industries responsible for some of the greatest job growth from pre-recession levels. Creating the infrastructure we need not only protects that job growth, it will also open up new markets for American energy at home and abroad, providing even more opportunity for economic growth.
And in an increasingly hostile world, our renewed energy abundance limits the influence of some of the worst human rights abusers, like Russia. But unfortunately, old laws in America are restricting this progress.
Upgrading our infrastructure is essential, and it has bipartisan support. The president has frequently said that he thinks Congress and the White House can work together on infrastructure. Unfortunately, his recent spree of veto threats says otherwise. But the House will continue to give the president opportunities to make good on his promise to work with Congress.
This week the House will consider the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Act sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). This bill streamlines the permitting process for natural gas pipelines, which are exactly what New Englanders need to enjoy affordable energy. Next week the House will consider a bill to expedite the approval of liquefied natural gas export facilities, letting America use its energy abundance to benefit our allies and counter our adversaries.
Both of these bills—an important opening step to ensuring affordable energy for all Americans—will have support from Democrats and Republicans. If the president puts down his veto pen and joins us, America will have an even brighter energy future.
McCarthy has represented Congressional districts in California’s San Joaquin Valley since 2007. Upton has represented Michigan’s 6th Congressional District since 1987.