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Energy & Environment Energy Democrats grill Oil execs over gas prices

Energy & Environment Energy Democrats grill Oil execs over gas prices

Energy & Environment Energy Democrats grill oil execs on gas prices
Madeline Monroe/iStock Illustration of The Hill

Today’s House hearing featured oil executives and a tiff between a Democratic Senator and EPA Administrator Michael Regan. Then we’ll examine the Supreme Court ordering a return to a Trump-era EPA rule.

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source of the latest news about energy, the environment, or beyond. Rachel Frazin was the editor of The Hill. Zack Budryk was the reporter. This newsletter was sent to you by someone? Register here 

Lawmakers press oil CEOs to lower gas prices

Democrats from the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee grilled oil executives Wednesday about the disparities in oil and gas prices. Republican members of the committee argued that high prices were a result of energy policies by the Biden administration.

Chair, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Diana DeGette(D-Colo.). He confronted witnesses who included executives from BP and Pioneer Natural Resources. They directly asked them why there was a disconnect between the falling crude oil price and the fact that gas prices are staying the same. 

What did they say? BP Chairman and President David Lawler responded by citing the complications in the supply chain, which he claimed could delay any drop in oil price being reflected in gas prices. 

The Democrats on the panel repeated the importance of the record profits reported by the oil industry in 2021. Frank Pallone Jr., Chair of Energy and Commerce Committee, (D-N.J.), asked each witness to disclose their past year’s profits and to commit to helping American consumers by increasing production and reducing dividends and buying back more.  

Although witnesses generally stated that they wanted to increase production, they were not able to commit or refused to say if they would reduce buybacks. 

Rep. Paul Tonko (D.N.Y.), noted that domestic U.S. crude oil production has increased by approximately 2 billion barrels per day since President Biden took office. Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., criticized the executives for referring to the financial hardships of 2020. 

Kuster stated that one bad year does no excuse the practice, Kuster stated. 

On the other side of this aisle: The witnesses defended their business practices and denied under oath having artificially increased prices to profit in the Ukraine conflict when they were questioned by Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., the ranking member of oversight and investigations subcommittee. 

Scott Sheffield, Pioneer CEO, stated that the company’s production was limited because it can’t get people back into oil extraction in Permian Basin.   

Griffith repeatedly asked witnesses whether the Biden administration’s budget request, which included a mention of ending fossil fuel subsidies, discouraged production. Darren Woods, CEO of BP, said that it could have had a chilling affect. The rest of the witnesses were noncommittal. 

Learn more about the hearing.

Democrat pushes EPA chief on climate rules’ pace

On Wednesday, a Democratic senator pressed the Biden administration to explain why it has not completed certain climate regulations. This raised concerns about how long it takes. 

In a rare moment when intraparty tension was at its peak, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., questioned EPA Administrator Michael ReganFind out how long it takes for the agency develop new climate regulations to protect against pollution sources like power plants, oil refineries, and airplanes. 

What length of time do you think that you can live? Whitehouse asked. 

Regans response: Regan stated that the agency had very limited resources and blamed President Biden for the state in which the EPA was placed.

The administrator stated that since I’ve been there for the past one year, we have staff who work nights and weekends. When you look at the rules we’ve proposed and implemented within the first year under the Biden administration, I’m really proud of our record. 

Im am damn proud of what this agency has done over the past year with the resources that we have, he added.  

The problem is that, in an emergency situation, effort doesn’t count, results do count, Whitehouse shot back.  

Regan referred to a Supreme Court case involving power plants, which could limit the tools available to the agency.  

He stated that we were going to be ready to go once the Supreme Court rules.  

Find out more about the exchange.

Supreme Court reinstates Trump water permit rule

Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision rescinded a Trump-era court ruling that restricted state and tribal authority in vetoing projects that could have an adverse effect on their waters, including pipelines.  

The Trump rule, which was rejected by a federal court on October, restricted states’ authority to block projects by giving them strict time limits of one year. The government could declare that it had waived its right to veto if it failed to meet the time limit.  

The rule also limited the scope  to only those that will impact water quality. It did not consider other factors, such as energy policy or air quality.  

See Also

The high court halted the vacatur on Wednesday and reinstated the rule in a 5-4 decision. Chief Justice John Roberts joined three liberal justices in dissidenting.  

Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissent arguing that the states and industry groups that had asked for the pause weren’t able to prove that it would cause irreparable damage and therefore were not eligible for a stay.  

Because the applicants have failed to prove their claims of irreparable injury, they have not met our standards. She stated that emergency relief is not an option for the Court. 

Learn more about the decision.


The House Committee on the Climate Crisis will host a Hearingentitled Cost-Saving Climate Solutions – Investing in Energy Efficiency to Promote Energy Security & Cut Energy Bills


  • Why Germany Can’t Just Pull the Plug on Russian EnergyThe New York Times)
  • New Orleans’ Gordon Plaza is a toxic nightmare (The Washington Post)
  • Business-GOP Alliance Crumbles Over Climate (E&E News)
  • Study finds that bird populations in Panama rainforest are in severe decline (The Guardian)
  • Occidental Eyes California’s Clean Fuels Market to Finance Texas Carbon Removal Plant (I)nside Climate News)


That’s all for today. Thank you for reading. The Hills Energy & Environment page has the most recent news and coverage. We hope to see you again tomorrow.


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