WASHINGTON — After almost a decade of oil-friendly Republicans controlling Congress, the energy sector faced a dramatically different political landscape Wednesday.
Where Republicans pushed an end to the oil export ban and the relaxing of environmental regulations around drilling, the new Democratic-led House is expected to be more interested in combating climate change than boosting oil and gas production.
Even before the election, Democrats made clear they planned oversight hearings into President Donald Trump’s efforts to cut regulations around oil and gas drilling and other industrial activity. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who is expected to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said last week that Democrats would “focus on the need to address climate change by looking at its impacts on our communities and economy, and by holding the Trump administration accountable for dangerous policies that only make it worse.”
The industry also will face the unfriendly fire without key allies, such as Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, who lost to political newcomer Lizzie Fletcher, and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, who lost to former NFL player Colin Allred. They and other Republicans will be unable to stop Democrats from haling energy executives to committee rooms explain their role and influence in the Trump administration’s rollback of regulations.
“They’ll be under pressure from the keep it in the ground constiuency,” said Lee Fuller, executive vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “How many other things do they want to pursue and how much time do they have? I think we’re going to have to see it sort out over the next several months. There’s people who want to spend all their times impeaching Trump.”
Democrats will have the power to hold hearings, conduct investigations and pass bills in the House. But with Republicans still controlling the White House and Senate, Democrats face a difficult time enacting legislation into law without GOP support.
“It’ll be noisier. There will be…