The Fuse

Energy Policy 2016: Spotlight on U.S. Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul

by R. Kress | July 10, 2015

Status: Declared candidacy on April 7, 2015.

Party: Republican / Tea Party

Background: Dr. Randal Howard “Rand” Paul is currently a United States Senator representing Kentucky. He is the son of former U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

Senate voting record highlights on energy and environment issues:

  • YES: Approve Keystone XL Pipeline (3/15 and various other related motions)
  • YES: Ban the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases (04/11)
  • YES: No Climate Tax Pledge (11/10)
    • The No Climate Tax Pledge was a promise among several GOP leaders to oppose climate change legislation that would create new revenue for the government (i.e. a carbon tax that is not revenue-neutral
  • YES: Federal Land Freedom Act (6/13)
    • Paul co-sponsored this legislation that would allow states to oversee permitting and regulations for energy resources on federal lands within their borders. It’s currently under committee review

An energy-driven economy: Some of the clearest hints as to what Paul’s energy policy would look like come from his 2014 budget proposal for the U.S. government. In it, he lays out an argument that 82 percent of the U.S. economy requires fossil fuels for job creation. He also calls for a deeper investment in coal energy—not surprising for a Senator from coal-rich Kentucky.

In his plan, Paul also pushes to re-cast the American energy story as one of abundance not scarcity and cautions voters that our current energy situation is fictionalized: “It is the government—not the declining resource base—that keeps our nation in a mindset of energy scarcity. The U.S. has more available domestic energy sources than most other nations, yet we are repeatedly told we are on the brink of a supply contraction, held hostage to foreign oil cartels and ineffective, inefficient renewable energy policies.”

Slashing red tape: On his website, Paul says bureaucracy is making it “Unnecessarily difficult for energy developers to take advantage of new and innovative forms of cheap and clean energy.” His solution: Allowing energy developers—including nuclear energy providers—to sink or swim in a competitive free market that spurs innovation and cost savings for consumers.

In his budget proposal, Paul reiterates his push to keep the federal government out of the energy development equation: “If the federal government were to remove itself as an impediment to energy development—not incentivize or give tax breaks, or otherwise encourage production, but just get out of the way—our domestic energy production would soar, and our reliance on foreign sources would drastically decrease.”

Personal property rights: Paul’s defense of personal property rights extends across various sectors—including environmental issues. In 2012, he introduced the Defense of Environment and Property Act of 2015. The Senate Bill set to cut the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal groups regulating states’ land and water use. Previous versions of the bill have not passed.

Keystone XL Pipeline: Paul has long been a vocal supporter of the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, voting time and again to approve it. He’s called the project an opportunity to create thousands of new jobs while securing the country’s energy independence.

In his 2014 budget proposal, he blasts the Obama administration for not seizing what he sees as the opportunity provided by the Keystone XL project: “Citizens are losing out on the benefits of more efficient and available energy transport. Railroads are now moving oil instead, which is a far more costly and less safe mode of transportation. [The Obama] Administration claims that they want to reduce dependence on foreign oil imports, but the intentional delay of the Keystone XL is just one more example of the heavy hand of government deliberately creating a false narrative of energy scarcity.”

Fracking: In Paul’s budget proposal for 2014 he dives deep into the issue of fossil fuel resource depletion. He posits that our current resources in the United States could fuel every passenger car for the next 400 to 500 years. He also maintains that instead of seeing resource depletion in recent years, oil exploration and new advances in mining and fracking technology have led to resource discovery.

“No recent development has demonstrated the revolutionary power of technological innovation more than hydraulic fracturing,” Paul writes in his proposal. “Unfortunately, the increase in production due to hydraulic fracturing has galvanized the environmental community against the practice – in spite of hydraulic fracturing’s excellent track record and rigorous oversight at the state level.” He calls for a reduction in federal regulation and a declawing of the EPA’s capacity to intervene.