Barrasso: This Infrastructure Bill Paves the Way for the Biden Administration to Take Over America’s Electric System

July 14, 2021

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a business meeting to consider energy infrastructure legislation.  

To watch the full business meeting, click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. 

“And thank you for holding today’s business meeting. 

“I appreciate your willingness to bring infrastructure legislation before this committee.

“I’m also grateful to you for making improvements to the bill. 

“Thank you for including our compromise on reauthorizing the Abandoned Mine Land reclamation fee and meeting me part way on rural water storage for the West. 

“I appreciate the improvements, yet, in its current form, I, at this point, cannot support this legislation.  

“This bill includes $95 billion in new spending authorizations. 

“We are told that, prior to floor consideration, Majority Leader Schumer is going to turn these authorizations into mandatory appropriations. 

“It is unclear how the majority is going to pay for this new spending. 

“It has been widely reported they intend to dramatically increase the size of the Internal Revenue Service to raise added revenue. 

“I strongly oppose supersizing the IRS. 

“A dramatically expanded IRS is going to target small business owners and family farms, who don’t have armies of tax lawyers and accountants to defend themselves against overly aggressive tax collectors. 

“I’m concerned this bill paves the way for the Biden administration to take over America’s electric system. 

“President Biden has pledged to establish a carbon-free power sector for the entire nation by the year 2035. 

“This is 10 years earlier than the goal the state of California has set for itself. 

“California already has among the highest electricity prices in the nation. 

“It has experienced rolling blackouts over the last two years. 

“California is the last state that the Biden administration should mandate as a model for rest of our nation. 

“To that end, the bill would empower the federal government to override states’ decisions on the siting of high voltage electric transmission lines. 

“Last week, the president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, wrote to this committee saying: ‘this new provision simply gives the state an ultimatum: ‘Approve the project or FERC will approve it for you.’’ 

“At a minimum, a change of this significance should be the subject of its own hearing before this committee.

“This bill also gives the federal government the authority to buy electric transmission capacity. 

“There is no shortage of private sector investment in transmission capacity. 

“There is no reason to make the federal government a transmission buyer or seller. 

“The bill also enables the Biden administration and its political allies to pressure states to adopt building codes that restrict or ban the use of natural gas in homes and commercial buildings. 

“Prohibiting Americans from heating their homes with natural gas is bad policy. 

“It is less energy efficient, more harmful to the environment, and more expensive for consumers. 

“The legislation includes insufficient permitting reform for critical minerals. 

“The Biden administration wants to end the sale of new vehicles with internal combustion engines. 

“If we don’t increase mining here in the United States, we will undermine our hard won energy independence. 

“We will only become more dependent on China. 

“We cannot let that happen.

“Finally, I believe more needs to be done for water in the West. 

“If any projects within this committee’s jurisdiction meet the definition of infrastructure, they are Bureau of Reclamation projects. 

“Farmers and ranchers depend on water supply and storage facilities to grow crops and raise livestock. 

“This bill fails to reauthorize expiring programs and fails to address existing reservoirs and other aging facilities. 

“This is a missed opportunity, especially for the drought conditions in the West. 

“While ultimately I can’t support this legislation, I do appreciate the chairman bringing the bill before the committee for its consideration. 

“I again thank Chairman Manchin for working with me to improve those provisions on which we could find common ground. 

“I look forward to continuing to work with the chairman and the opportunity to further improve this legislation.”