Analysis by Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley
Our sector received some good news last Friday when the EPA indicated it was not moving forward with labelling portions of the Permian oil producing region as “non-attainment” zones. Should the labelling have occurred, it could have had significant consequences for drilling and other industrial activities in the region as the EPA would have been able to use its power to limit emissions and create new action plans for the region.
The updated Unified Regulatory Agenda, planned regulatory actions to take place in the near future, released omitted the policy from an agenda of planned regulations and instead deemed the measure “inactive,” indicating it’s not expected to be finalized in the next six to 12 months. “If EPA decides to advance this action, EPA would initiate the redesignations process by sending a notification letter to the appropriate state governors soliciting their input and recommendations,” the agency said in a statement. “As part of a potential redesignations effort, EPA would also provide an opportunity for public comment on the action.”
While it is certainly possible that EPA could revive this proposal at some point later, it is excellent news this is on hold for the next year. Whether or not this decision is a one-off decision or represents a more dramatic philosophical flip by the Biden Administration to be less antagonistic towards domestic energy production remains to be seen.
Speaker Drama is Settled in the House, 118th Congress Taking Shape This Week.
After a tense week with lots of drama, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) was sworn is as Speaker of the House early Saturday morning. Speaker McCarthy was forced to make multiple concessions to the Republican holdouts, including rules changes as well as promises to avoid using his leadership PAC money in competitive Republican primaries. As soon as the speaker vote was complete, members were officially sworn in for the start of the 118th Congress.
Now that the official work of Congress can start, organizing decisions and structural placements are beginning. This week, committees are becoming populated and official work is moving forward. The committees we follow the most closely — Energy and Commerce, and Natural Resources — will retain their Republican leaders (who will now be Chairmen) from the last Congress. Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04) will lead Natural Resources and Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) will lead Energy and Commerce. Of note, two Texans who have significant Energy Workforce Membership in their districts, Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX-14) and Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX-11), will both be on the committee on the Republican (majority) side and Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-7) is expected to remain on the committee on the Democratic (minority) side. As other committees are fully populated in the coming days, this column will analyze any changes and flag their significance.
Big questions still circle Speaker McCarthy and the 118th Congress. It remains to be seen whether McCarthy will be able to wrangle this unruly caucus together for difficult votes and whether or not there will be pushback from many of the rank-and-file members on the concessions given to the holdouts. One thing that we can be sure of, more drama can be expected in the coming weeks and months.
Tim Tarpley, President, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.