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SEC Rule On Hold, House Energy Week

Analysis by Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley

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Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley

SEC Rule On Hold

As one would expect, the flurry of litigation regarding the recently published SEC rule has already begun. In addition to a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club arguing that the final rule did not go far enough and was insufficient in providing adequate information from investors, a lawsuit filed by Liberty Energy, an EWTC company, in the Fifth Circuit was successful in achieving a temporary stay in the rule. Liberty argued that the stay was necessary due to “irreparable injury in the form of unrecoverable compliance costs and constitutional injuries from the rule.”  

The SEC attorneys argued that Liberty Energy was already publicly disclosing certain climate-related risks in their filings, so the new burden on them was minimal by the rule. Ultimately, the court was swayed by Liberty’s arguments and granted the stay.  The court did not provide much supporting reasoning as to why it granted the stay.  The granting of the stay does not necessarily mean that the court will decide in Liberty’s favor; however, it does indicate that they believe there is merit to their claims, and it is possible they could ultimately rule in their favor.

It is important to remember that the stay is only temporary and will only prevent the regulation from going into effect until the court reaches a final decision on whether or not to halt the regulation as the lawsuits continue to move through the courts.   It is also unclear if the Fifth Circuit itself will be the ultimate one to decide the rule’s fate, as litigation is pending in at least six courts.   

It is expected that these cases will ultimately be consolidated, and a lottery will determine which court will continue with the new consolidated case.  Energy Workforce will follow the development of these cases closely and keep members up to date on any new developments.  

Energy Week begins in the House

Despite very close margins in the House, Republican leadership is planning to take a 2nd attempt at Energy Week, where a number of significant pieces of legislation that have been supported by Energy Workforce will come up for a vote in the House.  

Of interest to our member companies is HR 1121, which prohibits a presidential moratorium on hydraulic fracturing while establishing a Sense of Congress that States should maintain primacy for regulating the practice. I testified in front of the House Natural Resources Committee in September of last year in support of this legislation on behalf of the association.  

The bill is expected to pass, and while its future is uncertain in the Senate, it is important to get a strong bipartisan vote this week.   While there is currently no pending proposal from the Administration to prohibit fracking, it is important to get a strong vote in opposition to the prospect to protect against any future efforts down the road, especially in a future Congress or Administration. We expect the legislation to come to the floor on Wednesday.   

Also of note for EWTC interests, H.R. 6009 is expected on the floor Wednesday.  The bill would nullify the BLM’s proposed rule entitled “Fluid Mineral Leases and Leasing Process” published last July. This rule would significantly increase bonding rates for production on federal lands, remove nationwide bonding entirely, and introduce new “preference criteria” for onshore leasing.   

This legislation is also expected to pass. The House will also consider a Sense of Congress opposing a carbon tax. While non-binding, it will be important to see the vote total on this and see how many members cross the aisle to support it. The full list of legislation expected on the floor is:

H.R. 1023 – To repeal section 134 of the Clean Air Act, relating to the greenhouse gas reduction fund. 

H.R. 1121 – Protecting American Energy Production Act

H.R. 6009  – Restoring American Energy Dominance Act

H.R. 7023 – Nationwide Permitting Improvement Act [Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act]

H. Con. Res. 86  – Expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy.

H. Res. 987 – Denouncing the harmful, anti-American energy policies of the Biden administration, and for other purposes.

Tim Tarpley, Energy Workforce 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.



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