The House Energy and Commerce Committee has too many issues under its jurisdiction and should have its energy powers transferred to the Natural Resources Committee, according to American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle.
Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries, said E&C is "no longer functional" due to the breadth of its jurisdiction, which includes energy, telecommunications, technology and health care. For example, the panel’s comprehensive energy package, while commendable for its embrace of "free-market and common-sense energy policies," failed to address larger regulatory threats posed by U.S. EPA and federal ethanol mandates, he said.
"There is a path forward for the next House leadership to remedy this problem," Pyle wrote in a blog post. "It begins by shifting jurisdiction over energy policy to the House Committee on Natural Resources, creating a House Energy and Natural Resources Committee."
Unlike E&C, the Resources Committee led by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has a more narrowly defined mission overseeing production of federal natural resources — oil and gas, coal, and timber, among others — he said.
"The change in House leadership presents a unique opportunity for serious reforms that would make the House run more efficiently and effectively," Pyle wrote.
A spokesman for E&C Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) could not be reached last night.
But Upton and fellow committee Republicans have fought past attempts to erode the panel’s powers.
The last major push was in late 2010 by then-Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) as he was eyeing the chairmanship of Natural Resources. Hastings proposed consolidating energy into his committee to help Republicans create an "all of the above" energy policy, level the power of the two committees and help the House work more closely with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
But Upton and 14 other panel Republicans, including three who were considered candidates to take over the E&C gavel, blasted Hastings’ move in an op-ed in Politico.
"What’s being proposed is a grab," the lawmakers wrote. "Putting all of Congress’s energy eggs in one superbasket might make sense in a sweeping and comprehensive restructuring of the House system — until the idea is confronted with the sacrifice of knowledge and good sense for the sake of creating an artificial efficiency."