Koch Hispanic group launches support of GOP energy bill

The Libre Initiative is calling on members of Congress to support the signature GOP energy bill, which the group says would benefit both Hispanic consumers and Hispanic workers in the energy industry.

Libre Initiative President Daniel Garza wrote an open letter to members on Thursday, saying inflation fueled by high energy costs is the “biggest challenge facing Hispanic families and business.”

The Libre Initiative, part of mega-donor Charles Koch’s political network, is an advocacy group that promotes free-market ideas among U.S. Hispanics.

The House is expected to pass the Lower Energy Costs Act Thursday, ahead of a two-week legislative recess.

“For millions of Latinos all across the country, the number one issue remains jobs and the economy. If enacted, the Lower Energy Costs Act will help reduce energy costs while boosting domestic energy production in this country,” Garza said in a statement.

Polls have consistently shown that Hispanic voters see the economy as a top issue, along with education and health care.

But Libre’s case for the energy bill, introduced as H.R. 1, also touches on the large Hispanic contingent of energy industry workers.

According to the group, 17 percent of workers in the energy sector are Hispanic, including 20 percent of workers in mining, oil and gas.

Libre also pointed to figures published by the American Petroleum Institute that found 30 percent of energy sector workers in Texas are Hispanic.

The energy bill is a top priority for House Republicans, but it’s already attracted at least one Democratic member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Rep. Vicente González (D-Texas) said on Wednesday he will support the bill, largely because of its environmental and regulatory provisions.

“In order to fully realize the benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, remain competitive on the world stage, and ensure the American people have access to safer roads and bridges and reliable and affordable energy, we must improve federal environmental review and permitting processes,” said González.

“While this package is far from perfect, it is a step forward.”

Still, the energy bill faces an uphill battle with opposition from most House Democrats — House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) called the bill the “Polluters Over People Act” — and more opposition in the Senate.

President Biden has also vowed to veto the bill if it reaches his desk in its current form.

Still, conservative groups see in the bill a chance to showcase the potential benefits of relaxing regulations in the energy sector, and to tie current regulations to persistent inflation.

In addition to pushing legislators to vote for the bill, the Libre Initiative is running a campaign featuring digital ads, a blog post and a social media video in favor of the bill.

“By removing these bottlenecks in the energy supply chain, the bill will help ensure energy production from diverse sources. The Lower Energy Costs Act can be an inflection point in the Biden Administration’s seeming war on affordable energy that is fueling inflation and harming the environment,” wrote Garza in his letter to Congress.

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