Republican lawmaker aims to force Dem states to allow fracking: ‘Threatening America’s energy independence’

FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., unveiled a bill Wednesday seeking to force states to allow hydraulic fracturing by tying federal funds to the method of fossil fuel extraction.

States with statewide bans on fracking would be barred from receiving any funds from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program under Tenney’s legislation which was first obtained by FOX Business. The bill, which is set to be formally introduced Friday, is intended to target Tenney’s home state of New York which first banned fracking in 2014 and codified the ban in 2020.

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“New York State is sitting on top of natural gas formations that could power our state with clean energy for decades,” Tenney told FOX Business in a statement. “Unfortunately, far-left policies in Albany and Washington have severely limited our ability to safely tap into these reserves, threatening America’s energy independence, raising prices for consumers, and killing thousands of well-paying jobs.” 

“As Americans struggle with record-high costs due to the Joe Biden and Kathy Hochul’s energy and economic illiteracy, it is time we take actions to reverse this disaster and restore our nation’s energy independence,” she continued. “Americans need clean energy at lower costs now, and delivering on this commitment can and should start right here in New York.”

Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., sits in committee hearing. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Claudia Tenney’s office)

The EECBG program, which is overseen by the Department of Energy, provides state and local governments grants to reduce fossil fuel emissions, reduce energy use and improve energy efficiency across various sectors. The program was appropriated $550 million under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which President Biden signed in November.

Tenney’s office said the program is a “perfect fit for being the enforcement mechanism of the law” in a one-page summary of the bill shared with FOX Business.

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Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., issued a statewide ban on fracking in 2014 and, in 2020, introduced a bill codifying the ban into state law. The New York state legislature approved the bill as part of the fiscal year 2021 budget.

“New York’s leadership on hydraulic fracturing protects the environment, our drinking water, and our health,” Cuomo tweeted after he introduced the permanent ban in January 2020. “We must make the ban permanent.”

New York is a net importer of natural gas, most which comes via pipeline from Pennsylvania, even though the Marcellus Shale, the nation’s most prolific natural gas formation, runs through the western part of the state, according to the Energy Information Administration. In 2021, natural gas generated more than 45% of the New York’s electricity, making it the largest source of statewide power by far.

Vermont, Washington and Maryland have also banned fracking. However, Vermont has no fossil energy reserves while Washington and Maryland have few reserves of their own. 

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order phasing out fracking in the fossil fuel-rich state. The action will halt new fracking permits beginning in 2024 and requires the California Air Resources Board to analyze pathways to phase out all oil extraction by 2045.

Environmentalists and proponents of fracking bans have argued that the process uses toxic chemicals dangerous to human health. They also argue fracking releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

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