The pope and the president may be talking about climate change, but Congress has a different agenda. This week the House is poised to vote on a bill to boost U.S. energy exports.
During the energy crisis in the 1970s, Washington passed laws limiting the exports of energy. That was then. Now is now. Today, the U.S. is one of the world’s leading producers of energy. Experts across the board from think tanks like the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation have made the case that lifting restrictions on exports make sense.
There is a national security argument for more free-market energy policies. Some energy producers, like Russia and Iran, are just bad actors. The higher the energy prices, the more energy they sell, the more dependent countries are on them as suppliers, the more problems they can make. Enabling bad actors makes no sense when the U.S. has the opportunity to offer alternative sources of energy in a free market.
Energy exports are also good for America. “Allowing U.S. energy exports would provide a huge boon to the American economy, creating jobs, expanding the economy, and strengthening relationships with global trading partners and important allies,” writes economist Bill Wilson and a team of researchers at the Heritage Foundation.
Congress is doing something. There is legislation that could be up for a vote this week in the House removing federal restrictions on energy exports.
There is also a potential bump in the road.
Tacked to the energy bill was a boondoggle adding millions of dollars to the “Maritime Security Fleet.” This program has little to do with security. It is just another one of Washington’s many corporate welfare programs.
Lifting the export ban ought to be considered on its “own merits,” argues maritime security analyst Brian Slattery. As for the Maritime Security Fleet, before Congress spends another nickel, the administration ought to justify why it needs more money. “If this justification cannot be reasonably provided,” Slattery concludes, “then Congress should consider ceasing to subsidize this fleet.”