Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) tenure atop the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee has resulted in a dramatic return to the smooth and transparent process the Founders envisioned for the allocation of government resources. Now, with a year-end spending bill nearing completion, Shelby is once again playing a leading role.
For the first time in years, spending bills related to a broad range of issues — from veterans affairs, military construction, nuclear security and water infrastructure, to the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education — have advanced through the process as it was designed. After spearheading the funding of the U.S. military for Fiscal Year 2019, Shelby noted that “for the first time in a decade, we are sending a Defense spending bill to the President’s desk on time.”
But while border wall funding and other issues have justifiably taken center stage in recent days, America’s resurgence as a global energy leader is also hanging in the balance.
Tucked into the omnibus spending bill currently being negotiated is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is poised to deliver clean-burning natural gas from West Virginia to the eastern seaboard. Such projects languished without approval for years during the Obama administration, which restricted U.S. energy production in favor of subsidizing green projects or importing energy resources from other countries.
Reversing course, President Donald Trump has made “energy dominance” a key plank in his economic platform, which has already delivered the lowest unemployment and most robust job growth we have seen in years.
“Permanent energy self-sufficiency — once a pipe dream for Americans who remember waiting for hours in gas lines in the 1970s — is now very close to reality,” said John Fredericks, a political commentator based in Virginia who has closely followed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. “As our energy exports expand, our record trade deficits across the globe will be reduced, keeping cash and jobs in America — instead of going to other countries.”
Fredericks noted that Massachusetts recently took the opposite approach, blocking pipelines that would have delivered natural gas and choosing instead of purchase from Russia. But state and local governments in Virginia and North Carolina have cleared the path for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to deliver American energy resources to American households.
Those decisions have teed up Senator Shelby and his Appropriations Committee colleagues to do what they’ve done better than anyone since taking back control from Democrats: close the deal.
Tim Howe is the editor and an owner of Yellowhammer News