“Our mission is to get things accomplished, find common ground, and use pragmatism. Let’s figure these things out.”

Upton & McKinley Outline a Common Sense Approach to Energy Reform

WASHINGTON, DC — The Ripon Society held a breakfast discussion yesterday morning with two leaders spearheading the push for energy reform on Capitol Hill. Those leaders were U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (MI-6) and David McKinley (WV-1), who both serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee. 

Upton kicked things off by reflecting on his own tenure as Committee Chairman and touching on the historic reform pushed through by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich that did away with the seniority system for Chairmanships and instituted a six-year term limit instead.  It was a reform, Upton noted, that paved the way for him to hold the gavel from 2010 to 2016.

“Newt changed the seniority system,” the Michigan lawmaker recalled. “Had he not done so in ’94, Ralph Hall – a really a good guy — would’ve been Chairman of our Committee probably almost until he died … Then Joe Barton would still be here.  He’d be chairman now, and I’d be like — when is this going to happen?  But now it’s changed.  To Newt’s credit, you compete, and you have to re-compete. Did you keep your promises?  Did you do what you said you do? Did you have a positive agenda?”

Upton then turned to a key part of that agenda – energy – and the all-of-the above energy plan he embraced as Chairman and continues to push today.

“I’m blessed to have two nuclear plants in my district,” he said.  “American Electric Power and IMP manage a wonderful plant ten miles south of where I live. Entergy has another plant ten miles North of where I live. Those are so important. We had Fukushima, and Japan shut down their industry. Germany is shutting down their nuclear energy in the next year or two. How are they going to respond to losing these plants? Where do they get that missing energy? Well, it has to come from us.”

“When you look at Europe today, they have to rely on us. That’s why we have to expand our production rather than constrain it. Frankly, that’s the reason why the prices are what they are now.”

McKinley gave his remarks next, highlighting his private sector experience as a major reason why he has approached his job serving the people of northern West Virginia with pragmatism instead of partisanship.

“I know when I had my engineering firm, from the business side, we didn’t always get everything we wanted, but we got pieces of it,” he stated.  “So how do we work together here to make things happen? I tried to practice that while I’ve been here, and I’m now the tenth most bipartisan member of Congress. I’m honored by that.”

“But, just because you’re bipartisan, are you effective? Do you get things done? Vanderbilt came out with a report and said I’m the 34th most effective member of the House. I learned my approach from Fred Upton. I watched how he worked things and made things happen. And, as a result, I have been in the oval office 25 times and have seen 25 of my bills signed… Our mission is to get things accomplished, find common ground, and use pragmatism. Let’s figure these things out.”

With regard to Europe’s energy needs, McKinley agreed that the U.S. needs to be a leader when it comes to energy production and exportation.

“They’re going to continue to be dependent on other nations, particularly Russia. And I don’t like the fact that they’re importing so much of the subsidized Canadian energy. I want it to be an American product so that we are totally independent.”

Following their opening remarks, Upton and McKinley were asked a number of questions, including one about the prospect of Republicans taking back the House and what the priorities will be for the Energy and Commerce Committee with a GOP Chairman at the helm.

“I think we’re going to be looking at permitting reform,” Upton said, referring to the sharp decline in Interior Department approvals to drill oil and gas wells on public lands since the beginning of the Biden Administration. “That’ll be a real key objective, but you still have to work with the Administration because they still have the capability to veto.

“Cathy McMorris Rodgers, as Chairwoman, will be able to work with both sides and with the Administration. We had the Undersecretary of Energy come testify back in November, and we tried to pin him down on why these offshore permits are being stopped and why they’re changing the leases for LNG suddenly. Finally, I believe, they are beginning to understand that we have got to have more production.”

“Nuclear will also be a really big push of ours. How long have we heard about the permitting at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission? When are we going to see these smaller nuclear modules that can power a city? It seems like it has been forever and a day, and they keep giving us, ‘Well, it’s a few more years, a few more years.’ We’re going to have a come to Jesus meeting, I guess you could call it, on that stuff. We need renewables – it needs to be part of the mix – but what happens when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow?”

McKinley pointed to building bipartisan consensus around a broader national energy policy as one of his top priorities.

“It was a surprise when I came here and found out that we don’t have a national energy policy,” he explained. “Our energy policy changes every four years with each president, but I think we need tofigure it out once and for all. Then, we can tinker with it over the years ahead.”

“We also have to solve carbon capture, because the rest of the world is going to continue to use coal. In fact, China is increasing its coal consumption—India as well. China and India are actually cutting back on their LNG, which is surprising to me.”

To view the remarks of Upton and McKinley before The Ripon Society’s breakfast meeting yesterday morning, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.