Thursday, February 03, 2011

GOP Leaders Release Draft Bill To "Stop EPA's Cap & Trade Agenda"

Feb 2: U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, issued a joint statement on the release of their discussion draft, "The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011." The Energy and Power Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the draft legislation next Wednesday, February 9, at 10:00 AM.

    The Republican environmental committee leaders said they were releasing the draft as part of "a deliberative process with their colleagues on both sides of the aisle to discuss the most effective approach to stop EPA's cap and trade agenda." They said the draft legislation is based on the belief that: "(1) Congress, not EPA bureaucrats, should be in charge of setting America's climate change policy; and that, (2) A 2-year delay of EPA's cap-and-trade agenda provides no meaningful certainty for job creators, fails to protect jobs, and punts decision-making in Congress on a critically important economic issue past the voters and the election next year."

    According to a release, "The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011" would:
Stop EPA bureaucrats from making legislative decisions that should be made by Congress; Clarify that the Clean Air Act was not written by Congress to address climate change; Stop EPA bureaucrats from imposing a backdoor cap-and-trade tax that would make gasoline, electricity, fertilizer, and groceries more expensive for consumers; and Protect American jobs and manufacturers from overreaching EPA regulations that hinder our ability to compete with China and other countries.
    The members said, "With this draft proposal, we are initiating a deliberative, transparent process that we hope will prevent EPA from imposing by regulation the massive cap-and-trade tax that Congress rejected last year. We firmly believe federal bureaucrats should not be unilaterally setting national climate change policy, and with good reason: EPA's cap-and-trade tax agenda will cost jobs, undermine the competitiveness of America's manufacturers, and, as EPA has conceded, will have no meaningful impact on climate. In other words, all cost with no benefit. America's consumers, large and small businesses, farmers, and entrepreneurs should not carry this burden. We look forward to working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and the Obama Administration, to pass and sign into law legislation that stops EPA, puts Congress in charge, and helps get our economy growing again."
    The action follows by a couple of days, a similar effort launched on January 31, by U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) who introduced the "Defending America's Affordable Energy and Jobs Act" (S. 228). Senator Barrasso said his bill "would stop Washington bureaucrats from regulating greenhouse gases (GHG) for the purpose of addressing climate change without specific Congressional authorization." Barrasso's bill has 9 co-sponsors, including: Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Enzi (R-WY), James Inhofe (R-OK), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Thune (R-SD), and  David Vitter (R-LA) [See WIMS 1/31/11].
    Equally troubling for EPA and the Obama Administration, Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced S. 231, a bill to suspend, until the end of the 2-year period beginning on the date of enactment of the Act, any U.S. EPA action under the Clean Air Act "with respect to carbon dioxide or methane pursuant to certain proceedings, other than with respect to motor vehicle emissions, and for other purposes." Senator Rockefeller's bill has six Democratic cosponsors including: Senators Kent Conrak (D-ND), Tim Johnsor (D-SD), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Jim Webb (D-VA).
    Both Senate bills have been referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Senator Boxer and other Democratic EPW Committee members released statements reacting to the GOP leaders draft proposal. Senator Boxer said, "Bipartisan environmental laws are now under attack. EPA's common-sense steps to address carbon pollution follow the law and the Supreme Court decision that the agency must consider this threat. Congress should not turn its back on the American people by prohibiting EPA from doing its job to address carbon pollution." Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) said, "These attacks on the Clean Air Act will only take us backwards to a time when big polluters dirtied our air with impunity and hurt the health of our children. If Republicans want to tear down the progress we have made to make air cleaner in America, they're going to get a fight from those of us who are committed to the public health of our communities."
    Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) said, "The facts are simple: EPA's work to protect human health and the environment through the Clean Air Act has saved hundreds of thousands of lives and provided literally trillions of dollars in health benefits. It also has helped generate billions of dollars in revenues for American environmental businesses and exports that support 1.6 million American jobs. Legislation to stop EPA from doing its job under the Clean Air Act is misguided and must not move forward." Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said, "As Chairman of the Green Jobs Subcommittee, I believe the American people want Congress to protect our families from pollution and create jobs in sustainable energy. As this legislation makes clear, however, Republican leaders in the House and Senate think we should be bailing out big polluters by exempting them from Clean Air Act standards. I will vigorously oppose this and other efforts to gut our nation's clean air health standards."

    Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said, "These short-sighted attempts to roll back EPA's authority to protect air quality will do harm to clean energy jobs, energy efficiency, and our children's health. We should be working to stimulate our clean energy economy and protect public health, not protecting polluters." Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) said, "This bill goes way too far by undermining the Clean Air Act and putting politics over public health. The Supreme Court and the best climate science - some of which comes from New Mexico's national labs -- compelled the Environmental Protection Agency to act and protect health and welfare of our citizens. EPA oversight is an important responsibility and I will continue to evaluate the impact of the agency's performance." Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said, "We need strong protections for the air we breathe and the water we drink.  This extreme attack on the Clean Air Act protects polluters, while putting our health at risk. At a critical time when we need to be addressing climate change and impacts on public health, this assault on our environmental protections takes us in the wrong direction."

    Access a release from the GOP leaders (click here). Access the discussion draft bill (click here). Access S.228 (click here). Access S.231 (click here). Access a release from Senator Boxer and other EPW members (click here).
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