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Policy changes to watch for in Republican controlled Congress

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Energy is going to be front and center when the Republicans take control of both houses.
The past six years have seen taxpayer dollars poured into green-energy projects that have raised electricity rates. Meanwhile, Republicans have touted the job creation and economic impact available through America’s abundant fossil-fuel resources.
Big changes in energy policy are in the works because a wealthy country is better able to do things right. A growing economy needs energy that is efficient, effective and economical — which is why countries like China and India will not limit energy availability and why Republicans want to expand access in the United States.
What energy policies should we watch?
Keystone pipeline
• Post-election, the Keystone pipeline has suddenly leapt to the front of the lame-duck-legislation line.
• The question remains whether the White House will approve the bill, though spokesman Josh Earnest hinted at an Obama veto. A veto would further anger his union supporters. With many Democrats already on board and a push for more support from union leadership, the new Congress may be able to pass it again — this time with a veto-proof majority.
Federal lands
• A Congressional Research Service report makes it clear, while oil production has increased 61 percent on state and private lands, it has decreased 6 percent on federal land where the administration has authority.
• One prediction has drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge becoming a part of the Republican Party’s vision of energy independence — something Alaska’s senior Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has argued for.
Oil exports
• Before the new Congress is sworn in, we already hear a lot of talk about lifting the ban on oil exports that was put into place in response to the 1970s Arab oil embargo.
• With the Republicans now in charge come January, Murkowski will become the Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She is expected to start by “holding hearings, pressuring Obama administration officials, and testing the level of support from party leadership” regarding lifting the export ban.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
• President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) has widespread opposition within the Republican Party. Even coal-state Democrats, such as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), have concerns with the CPP.
• The EPAs many new regulations have lawmakers concerned about its impact on grid reliability and the economy. President Barack Obama is not likely to sign any legislation designed to rein in his personal priorities, but Republicans can make changes in EPA appropriations.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA)
• The ESA direly needs revision, updating or outright repeal as it has more recently been used as a funding tool for environmental groups and a way for them to block economic activity, such as oil-and-gas extraction, and ranching, farming and mining.
• This may be the time to introduce legislation that would reform the ESA to curtail litigation from wildlife advocates and give states more authority.
Climate Change
• The Environment and Public Works Committee Chairmanship will change from one of the biggest supporters of Obama’s climate change agenda (Senator Barbara Boxer [D-CA]) to the biggest opponent of his policies (Senator Jim Inhofe [R-OK]). On election night, Inhofe stated: “I am looking forward to taking back the environment committee” — a role that, according to Environment & Energy Publishing: “Already has greens cringing.”
Reports now declare: “Climate change compromises may be easier with China than Congress.”
It’s going to be an interesting two years. If the Republican policies turn the economy around as predicted offering a sharp contrast to the stagnation of the past six years, they will pave the way for victory in 2016.