top of page


Energy Policy Will Have a Strong Presence in Republican Committee Work

In addition to the legislative priorities that surface during a new Congress, a changing majority in either chamber generally signals a reset of the legislative agenda. With Republicans now holding the majority in the House and new members landing powerful committee assignments, we can expect a conspicuous shift in legislative priorities and messaging – particularly related to energy, public lands, and conservation policy.

The new House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), has vowed to highlight rural communities and GOP priorities like the inclusion of fossil fuels in energy plans. Rep. Smith backed up these themes by holding the committee’s first hearing in Petersburg, West Virginia, where he spoke at length about fossil fuels being a fixture of energy policy. Of the 10 new Republicans added to the committee, many have ties to the energy industry. Rep. Mike Carey (R-OH), a former coal industry lobbyist, plans to advocate for an “all-of-the-above” energy policy that includes renewables, nuclear power, and fossil fuels. Another new Ways and Means member, Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX), signaled that she wants to amend trade regulations to increase crude oil exports.

The Farm Bill will be a major legislative vehicle in the 118th Congress, and the makeup of the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction will have a huge impact on the final product. At last week’s organizing meeting for the House Agriculture Committee, Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) noted that addressing energy and farming input costs, reigning in federal regulations, and “supporting policies that put production agriculture first” were among his top priorities. In the Senate, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) stressed the need to maintain the nation’s food supply “while protecting the land, water, air, wildlife and rural communities that we all care about."

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) has made clear that he intends to focus heavily on energy production – particularly mineral mining and oil production. Key messages from the committee’s most recent hearing memo drove this point home: “Domestic production of oil and natural gas on federal lands is critical to the economies and livelihoods of local communities across the country…Federal agency permitting processes are in desperate need of reform to ensure timely approval of critical permits for the development of energy resources on federal lands.” At the same time, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) praised recent guidance from the Department of Treasury, Department of Energy, and IRS on provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act to incentivize energy transition investment in coal communities.

Thus, several committees with jurisdiction impacting public lands, increased energy production (particularly fossil fuels and natural gas) and independence, as well as permitting reform, will clearly be major themes of the 118th Congress. Activity late in the 117th Congress also indicates that stakeholders should be on the lookout for committees to address wildfire prevention and mitigation.


bottom of page