The presumptive chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), has formally asked House Republicans to consider combining the energy jurisdictions of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee into one committee -- the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Hastings laid out his proposal and the reasons for it in a letter to the Republican Conference of the 112th Congress last Thursday. The Republican Conference will have to agree to the changes in committee jurisdictions before the committee chairmen are picked, said Hastings spokesman Spencer Pederson. The House Steering Committee will begin selecting chairmen next Monday.
"As Republicans seek to empower the committees in the 112th Congress, shifting the entire energy jurisdiction of the Commerce Committee to the Natural Resources Committee would level the power of committees," Hastings wrote.
"This proposal would allow one committee [Commerce] to focus on health care and Obamacare, and one committee [Energy and Natural Resources] to focus on energy, our all-of-the-above approach, and the administration's policies that hurt energy jobs and American-made energy production," Hastings said.
The Energy and Commerce Committee currently controls health care, interstate commerce, technology, telecommunications, the Federal Drug Administration, consumer protection and energy. It specifically oversees the Department of Energy and general energy policy, including oil, natural gas, nuclear, and renewable power. "In terms of legislative power, it is a Goliath," Hastings said.
The House Natural Resources Committee currently oversees all energy development on federal lands and offshore: oil, natural gas, hydropower, wind, solar, coal, geothermal, uranium and minerals.
"Energy is currently divided in two halves -- and this proposal would marry together our nation's broad energy policy with the vast majority of America's actual energy resources that are on our federal lands and offshore," he noted.
"It is not a new concept or proposal to consolidate energy jurisdiction into the Natural Resources Committee -- it has been pondered by many for quite some time. But this is the moment that a decision can be made to align the structure of the House towards creating a cohesive and comprehensive national energy policy that has the capabilities to spur real, long-term job creation and economic growth. Energy deserves the concentrated attention of a committee with full jurisdiction over such a sweeping issue."
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