Ag Retailers: Lower Energy Costs Act would benefit the industry, address inflation

The Agricultural Retailers Association says it’s pleased the U.S. House has passed the Lower Energy Costs Act.  

Richard Gupton, senior vice president of public policy and counsel, says the legislation will help reduce inflation pressures and costs.

“If you’re looking over the last few years with record inflation and costs, all the drivers related to that go back to energy and energy costs. Trucks operates on diesel and farm equipment operates on diesel as well. There are other energy costs. You need natural gas to produce nitrogen fertilizer. All of that is fundamentally impacted by energy costs. This legislation focuses on making sure we use the resources available domestically,” he says. “ARA supports an all-of-the-above energy strategy including oil and natural gas which is critical to our economy. We support other renewable fuels and other products.”

He tells Brownfield it would also reform the National Environmental Policy Act.

“This legislation not only focuses on the resources we have here, which is the oil and gas that we have in abundance and allows the technologies to be utilized, but it also reforms the permitting process. It reforms the National Environmental Policy Act, which has been used by some groups to delay important infrastructure projects or other projects related to mining, which is also important for using the natural resources here. We have abundant supplies of potash here in the U.S. and Canada. This would help make sure there is access to pipelines to get resources from allies in North America. This legislation helps address all of these things, which we think will help address inflation issues and energy costs ultimately benefiting businesses and consumers.”

The organization says the Lower Energy Cost Act would help increase the nation’s energy independence by boosting domestic production, reform permitting processes, streamline energy infrastructure, and expand global competitiveness.

The legislation now goes to the Senate, where its Majority Leader has said it is dead-on-arrival.

Gupton says, “because it’s several bills addressing a number of topics is likely not to be considered (as a whole), but there are sections of these bills that we think can be brought up in a bipartisan way,” he says. “For example, the permitting issues. Even if you’re focusing on something like electric vehicles, the materials needed for that need to be mined. There are some here within the United States so you have to have permitting forms for mines to allow those resources to be accessed. This legislation would allow for that in a much more timely, predictable way. If you’re asking for individuals to make this kind of massive investment into these projects, they need some certainty and this would help address this. The Senate likely won’t bring up this bill as a bigger package, but there are parts of this bill that may have a chance to deal with. For example, there’s a tax on natural gas that had been imposed. If energy costs continue to be an issue as we go into the 2024 elections, there may be an effort to peel back some of those natural gas costs. Those are things that we think may have an opportunity for including the revenue sharing for offshore energy projects that will benefit the U.S. as well.”

The Agricultural Retailers Association is among 100 stakeholders to endorse The Lower Energy Costs Act.

ARA supports an all-of-the-above approach to energy which includes oil, gas, and continued investment in biofuel to increase domestic natural gas production. ARA opposes internal combustion engine bans and restrictions along with electric vehicle mandates.

Audio: Richard Gupton

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