Sen. Jerry Moran told a group of Kansas energy executives Friday that regulations on fossil fuels, especially coal, are threatening to kill the American dream and Congress needs to get its act together and start replacing regulation with legislation.
Moran said the economic impact from fossil-fuel regulation goes far beyond the fate of miners and producers and threatens manufacturers — including Wichita’s aircraft industry — that depend on cheap power to remain competitive with cheap labor overseas.
Moran and fellow Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., held an energy roundtable meeting Friday with about 20 executives and association leaders representing oil and gas producers and the state’s public utilities.
At the meeting, Trent Sebits, chairman of the board of Pickrell Drilling Co., said he doesn’t think regulations coming out of Washington — such as restrictions on oil operations during prairie chicken mating season — are really designed to meet their stated purpose, but instead to inconvenience fossil fuel production.
He called it part of a “quasi-religious” quest to eventually take carbon-based fuels out of the U.S. energy equation.
Moran agreed the regulations are aimed at fossil fuels, saying that one thing people need to understand is that although wind power has become an important part of Kansas energy, it’s an additional source that’s “not replacing coal and not replacing nuclear.”
It’s also more expensive, while cheap power is a huge inducement to manufacturers to stay in the United States instead of moving operations overseas, he said.
“The broader reality is this is going to determine in part whether aircraft manufacturing continues” in Wichita, Moran said.
Moran said reducing fossil-fuel use also hits residents in the wallet, raising the price of home electricity. And he criticized Democrats for claiming to be the party of the poor and working classes while pushing energy policies that would make it harder on “people who are trying to get by week-to-week.”
“Wealthy people will figure out how to make that work,” he said.
Moran did lay part of the blame on Congress for failing to pass bills that would rein in regulation.
A key failure is the inability to pass budgets that contain provisos to defund some Obama administration regulatory efforts, he said.
When Congress can’t pass a budget, it funds government through a process called “continuing resolution,” which basically maintains current funding while talks continue. That process freezes out amendments to actually change the way money gets spent, Moran said.
He said he is hopeful that after the upcoming election, Congress will be able to start making laws to rein in administrative powers, “instead of being a political arm of whoever’s in the White House.”