Four ways a GOP-led Congress will take on energy, environment

Rachel Frazin

Energy issues are expected to be top of mind for Republicans if they take back the House or the Senate next year given the party’s focus on high gas prices in the lead-up to the elections.

The GOP is vowing to move pro-energy legislation, even though turning Republican bills into law will be difficult with President Biden in the White House. No matter how successful the GOP is on Election Day, they are also highly unlikely to win a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Still, bills passed by a House GOP, if Republicans take the lower chamber as projected, will lend strength to the Republican messaging campaign in 2023 and 2024.

Perhaps even more importantly, a GOP House would also gain the ability to conduct significant oversight of the Biden administration.

While partisan warfare is expected on energy given deep differences between the parties, some say there are potential areas of cooperation.

Here is what the GOP energy and climate agenda may look like.

Investigations and oversight 

Republicans are vowing to be muscular in their oversight of the Biden administration.

In a statement to The Hill, House Oversight and Reform Committee ranking member Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) said that the panel would “conduct robust oversight of the Biden Administration’s policies harming American workers and families” with a GOP majority.

Comer specifically pointed to the administration’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and restrictions on oil and gas leasing on federal lands as two such policies for oversight. 

He also said that the panel will look into climate-related actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC has proposed to require publicly-traded companies to disclose their contributions to climate change; something that has met with significant GOP pushback. 

House Republicans have also sought to probe the Biden administration on its release of oil from the country’s strategic reserve and so-far unrealized efforts to declare a national climate emergency. 

They also indicated that they would monitor the Energy Department’s loan program, which historically has given money to both successes like Tesla and failures like Solyndra, a solar company that ultimately went bankrupt after receiving a federal loan.

Bolstering oil and gas

The GOP wants to cast itself as a champion of domestic energy production, and Republicans have signaled they will do everything they can to contrast their stances with Democrats’.

It’s an issue that could be a major theme of the campaigns for 2024.

A Republican energy and climate plan unveiled in June focused on the development of oil and gas, which significantly contribute to climate change. Republicans argue that the fuels are produced more cleanly in the U.S. than in other parts of the world.  

A document related to that plan obtained by The Hill pointed to legislation that would require the president to develop a plan to encourage oil and natural gas production and approve pipelines to import Canadian oil. 

It also listed a separate bill that would require congressional approval before prohibiting or delaying new oil, gas, coal or mineral leases. This bill is seemingly aimed at the Biden administration’s efforts to pause new oil and gas leases.  

Peter Hoffman, spokesperson for Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, also listed carbon capture — which seeks to capture emissions from natural gas plants, among other places, as an area of focus. 

Many of these proposals would face an uphill battle in the Senate, where most legislation needs 60 votes to pass because of the filibuster, and from a Biden White House. 

“All-of-the-above” energy

While fossil fuel energy is expected to represent a significant area of focus for Republicans, they say it’s not the only type of energy they are looking to bolster. 

“Oil and gas are just part of our all-of-the-above energy approach, which includes renewables like wind and solar, as well as nuclear, hydropower, and more,” said Rebekah Hoshiko, spokesperson for Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee, in an email. 

Hoshiko pointed to permitting reform — shorthand for policies that speed up the approval process for both fossil and other energy projects — and support for mining as ways to unlock additional renewable energy. 

It’s not clear whether Democrats and Republicans will be able to strike a permitting deal in the lame duck session, but if not, the GOP may try to tackle the issue on their own. 

The Republican climate and energy plan also pointed to bills aimed at shortening the environmental review process for mining and at bolstering hydropower specifically and federal purchases of renewable electric power generally. 

The GOP is also generally supportive of nuclear energy. 

They may also look to bolster the production of energy from hydrogen. Hydrogen energy can be produced using a range of fuels like nuclear, renewables or natural gas. 


Republicans in recent years have promoted a pair of forestry bills, and see them as potential areas for bipartisan cooperation. 

One such bill seeks to increase the total number of trees planted each year in the U.S.

A House version of the bill has three Democratic co-sponsors and more than 100 Republican co-sponsors. It received a mixed review from The Nature Conservancy, which lauded its efforts to expand tree planting but raised concerns about what they described as “provisions that would circumvent environmental analysis on public lands.”

They’re even more likely to get support on a more narrow bill aimed at protecting California’s giant sequoia trees.

Courtesy: thehill