The House Republican Steering Committee has selected South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, an ardent supporter of offshore energy development, hydraulic fracturing and the Keystone XL pipeline, to serve on the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce (E&C). He would replace Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), who resigned earlier this month.
Duncan, 51, was elected to the House in 2010 as part of the conservative Tea Party movement and successfully ran for re-election in 2012 and 2014. His district covers the western part of South Carolina.
"Everyone knows how passionate I am about energy policy and the importance of creating jobs by getting the government out of the way," Duncan said Tuesday. "The E&C Committee offers me the best opportunity to work on these key issues to help the people of my district, my state, and my country."
E&C Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said Duncan's "long career in public service, from his work serving as a state legislator back in South Carolina to his time spent here in Congress, and time as a small business owner allow him to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact on the committee with some of the broadest jurisdiction in Congress."
According to his website, Duncan supports an "all-of-the above energy policy," including oil and natural gas production in Alaska, the West and along the Gulf Coast. He also supports developing Canadian oilsands and the Keystone XL pipeline to transport oil to the Gulf Coast. In addition, "We have tremendous opportunities with natural gas through shale extraction and hydraulic fracturing," he said.
Last June, Duncan was one of eight GOP members to sponsor HR 3133, also known as the Streamlining Environmental Approvals (SEA) Act, which calls for amending the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972. Specifically, the bill would streamline the offshore permitting process, particularly for operators to conduct seismic surveying. HR 3133 was referred to the House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans in July.
"The previous administration perverted the rule of law for political purposes regarding the MMPA," Duncan said in August, according to the Independent Mail. "They used loopholes in the permitting review process to bait survey companies into financial uncertainty, until finally pulling the rug out from underneath them in the twilight of Obama's presidency." He added that the SEA Act "sets a clear permitting time framework so a company will know whether they will be accepted or denied in a timely manner -- no more limbo."
During an oversight hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources in May 2014 to discuss best practices by the oil and gas industry, Duncan said "good paying energy jobs could be had in this country if we would just continue to pursue good policies."
In July 2013, Duncan grilled then-Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell at a House Committee on Natural Resources hearing over whether she thought the Atlantic would be included in the next five-year offshore leasing plan. One month earlier, Duncan and other Republicans on the same committee approved HR 2231, which called for opening offshore energy development along the East and West coasts.
Republicans from South Carolina, including Duncan, have backed efforts to open the state's offshore areas to energy development since at least 2012.
Murphy's last day in office was Saturday. His district covered portions of Allegheny, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties, in the southwest part of Pennsylvania.