Friday, March 04, 2011

House & Senate Introduce "Energy Tax Prevention Act"

Mar 3: In a bicameral effort of Republican leaders and a few Democrats, members have introduced the Energy Tax Prevention Act (H.R. 910 & S. 482), a bill to block what they call the "U.S. EPA's controversial backdoor climate change agenda that would further drive up the price of energy for American consumers and job creators at a time when gas prices are already spiking and job creation remains weak." The bill, they say, is narrowly drawn to clarify the EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act, preserving the law's important and longstanding functions to reduce air pollution.
    In the House, the bill is introduced by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and has 9 cosponsors including three Democrats Collin Peterson (D-MN), Dan Boren (D-OK) and Nick Rahall (D-WV). In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, and has 43 cosponsors including one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). 
    According to a summary provided by Senator Inhofe, the bill would: Protect jobs in America's manufacturing sector; Protect consumers from higher energy costs; Put Congress in charge of the nation's climate change policies; and Ensure that the public health provisions of the Clean Air Act are preserved. Senator Inhofe commented on the provisions as follows:
  • No More Back-Door Energy Taxes - "As the price of gasoline nears $4 a gallon, consumers can't afford to pay for the Obama EPA's back-door cap-and-trade regulations, which will inevitably mean higher prices for gasoline and electricity," Sen. Inhofe said.  "The Energy Tax Prevention Act protects consumers and their budgets." 
  • No Two-Year Delay - "stops cap-and-trade regulations from taking effect-once and for all. A two-year delay won't help our economy grow or help those searching for work. It does nothing to alleviate the uncertainty plaguing businesses all across America. Simply put, EPA's cap-and-trade regime is bad policy that must be stopped."
  • Takes Power Away from Unelected Bureaucrats - "imposes accountability. It takes power away from unelected bureaucrats and puts it where it belongs: in Congress, where the people can and should decide the nation's climate change policy."
  • Stops Distortion of Nation's Clean Air Law - "leaves all of the essential provisions of the Clean Air Act intact, ensuring that Americans will be protected from pollution that has direct public health impacts. It also prevents EPA from twisting the Clean Air Act into a bureaucratic obstacle to growth and expansion. I recognize the tremendous strides businesses and communities have made in reducing air pollution, and I stand ready to modernize the Clean Air Act to make even greater strides in improving public health. But imposing energy taxes through EPA's cap-and-trade regulations and blocking expansion won't make Americans healthier-it will only mean fewer jobs, a higher cost of living, and less growth and innovation."
    Chairman Upton said, "Whether at the pump or on their monthly utility bills, American families, farmers, and employers feel the pinch when energy prices go up. The very last thing the federal government should do is make matters worse by intentionally driving up the cost of energy. Yet that is exactly what's in store if the EPA moves forward with its plans to regulate and penalize carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act." House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY) said, "The EPA is pursuing a dramatic shift in our nation's energy and environmental policy that would send shock waves through our economy. Setting the course of our energy policy is the job of Congress, not a single federal agency acting without authority. The Energy Tax Prevention Act is a sensible, straightforward plan to end the uncertainty and economic threat posed by the EPA's climate change agenda."
    The members listed earlier supporters of the bill as: American Electric Power, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, the National Association of Realtors, and the National Mining Association. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) issued a release supporting the bills and said, "Job creators, who have been struggling to comply with costly regulations in these economic times, are deeply concerned that more devastating regulations are on the way. We applaud this legislation and believe it can stop misguided regulations that have been putting manufacturers out of work."
    The American Petroleum Institute (API) said it "welcomes the leadership of Senator Inhofe and Chairman Upton, and the growing list of bipartisan supporters in Congress, to stop unelected federal officials from regulating carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act -- a policy never intended by Congress. This legislation will prevent EPA from imposing regulations that could significantly raise energy costs and harm our fragile economic recovery."
    Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and other Democrats on the EPW Committee released statements saying the bills "would hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to implement the Clean Air Act and permanently block the agency from curbing carbon pollution from the nation's largest polluters. The Inhofe-Upton bill would block EPA from complying with the U.S. Supreme Court's direction to address carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act."
    Senator Boxer said, "This bill is an assault on the Clean Air Act and threatens the health and well-being of all Americans. One of EPA's core missions is to protect children and families from dangerous air pollution, and it is irresponsible to prevent EPA from holding major industrial polluters accountable. As recent polls have shown, including one by the American Lung Association, this bill is out of step with the American public who strongly support environmental safeguards." Other members commenting in the joint release included: Senators Thomas Carper (D-DE), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
    Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman (D-CA) issued a statement saying, "The Upton-Inhofe bill is an affront to science. It exempts the nation's largest polluters from regulation at the expense of public health and energy security. This proposal may be good for Koch Oil but it would gut the landmark Clean Air Act and prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from addressing the enormous threat posed by carbon pollution.  I remain committed to fighting this and other Republican efforts to weaken the laws that form the cornerstone of public health and environmental protections in our nation."
    Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) issued a statement saying the bill "would increase pollution and promote the importation of millions of barrels of foreign oil per day by negating advanced fuel economy standards." He said, "Along with the threats to public health this bill presents, it would curtail American clean energy innovation and eliminate fuel economy advances that would save millions of barrels of oil per day. The bill represents an impossibly shortsighted tradeoff for America: complacency on clean energy and public health in exchange for more Middle Eastern oil."
    The public interest law firm, Earthjustice issued a release stating, "This House bill is yet another Dirty Air Act intended to give the nation's biggest polluters a way out of limits to their carbon dioxide -- pollution that's likely to exacerbate asthma and lung diseases by worsening smog, and increase deadly heat waves and extreme weather conditions. But climate change isn't just threatening Americans' health; it is also threatening our well-being and ability to prosper now and into the future. We know that carbon dioxide pollution and climate change will have far-reaching effects on this country and the businesses that keep us running. We are threatened with heavy storm surges that will cost us both ecologically and economically, with harm to our clean drinking water supplies, with severe impacts on crop harvests and livestock production and food prices, with harm to life and critical fisheries in our coastal areas, and with new disease threats.

    "Volumes of science prove that wiping away limits on carbon dioxide pollution and the health benefits these limits will provide will hurt Americans all over the country. Most Americans recognize the importance of these pollution limits and agree that science, not politicians with political motives, should be followed when setting these pollution controls, as the Environmental Protection Agency has done. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that, based on all the science in front of us, the EPA must move forward on controlling carbon dioxide pollution under the Clean Air Act's requirements. It's been almost four years of these blocks and obstructions by some members of Congress who want to brush aside this mandate and ignore the science."

    Access a release from Rep. Upton and link to supporting letters (click here). Access a release from Sen. Inhofe including a summary, fact sheet, the bill and supporting comments from Senators (click here). Access legislative details of H.R. 910 (click here). Access legislative details of S.482 (click here). Access the release from NAM (click here). Access the release from API (click here). Access the joint release from EPW Committee Democrats (click here). Access the statement from Rep. Waxman (click here). Access the statement from Rep. Markey (click here). Access the release from Earthjustice (click here).
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