Energy & Environment

EPA’s Cap and Trade Upheld, Thanks to Obama and Harry Reid

President Obama will veto the bill passed by the Republican House on Thursday, which prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating  greenhouse emissions.  Also on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) successfully maneuvered to prevent passage of the same legislation, sponsored by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.).

Congressional Republicans are trying to stop the Obama administration’s EPA from continuing to implement new regulations that tax businesses and raise gas prices in order to pursue its climate change agenda.  The EPA is using the Clean Air Act (CAA) as a vehicle for its new cap-and-trade (or “cap-and-tax”) regulations.

EPA regulations of carbon dioxide emissions that come from coal, oil, and natural gas raise the energy cost to consumers, which trickles down to increase the cost of everything from gasoline to groceries.

The White House released a veto threat of the House bill, Energy Tax Prevention Act (HR 910), two days before it was voted on the floor.

“The administration strongly opposes House passage of HR 910, which would halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s common-sense steps under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to protect Americans from harmful air pollution.  HR 910 would also increase the nation’s dependence on oil and other fossil fuels as well as contradict the scientific consensus on climate change,” read the policy statement.

Despite Obama’s veto threat, the Energy Tax Prevention Act passed the House by a vote of 255 to 172, with 19 Democrats voting for it.  The bill would block the EPA from using the CAA to create new regulations that curb greenhouse gases and impose a backdoor energy tax.

“I think it is a travesty that this government is deliberately imposing policies that will harm job creators and working families,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R.-Mich.), who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Ed Whitfield (R.-Ky.)

“And for what?” asked Upton.  “EPA Administrator [Lisa] Jackson herself admits U.S. regulation of greenhouse gases will not affect global climate conditions.”

As Democrats were unable to pass cap and trade in the previous Congress, this bill prohibits the Obama administration from regulating what it could not legislate.

“We all know this administration wanted a cap-and-trade system to regulate
greenhouse gases.  But Congress said no.  So beginning in early 2009, EPA began putting together a house of cards to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide,” said Upton during debate.

In the Senate, McConnell’s amendment failed to meet the 60-vote threshold for passage, getting 50 votes.  The McConnell/Inhofe amendment is the same legislation as the House’s Energy Tax Prevention Act.

McConnell and Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, offered the amendment on March 15 to a small-business reauthorization bill.  When many Democrats expressed their support for the McConnell’s amendment, Reid stopped all votes on the bill.

For the past three weeks, Reid has worked feverishly behind the scenes to get his Democrat caucus to vote against it.  When Reid failed to find enough Democrats to vote against stopping the EPA’s cap-and-trade policies, he added three similar amendments to the bill so that the Democrats had a false political pretense.

“Democrats themselves recognize the dangers of these EPA regulations.  Yet instead of just voting for the one amendment that solves the problem, they’re hiding behind sham amendments designed to give them political cover,” said McConnell on the floor.

None of the four EPA amendments got enough votes to pass, which was Reid’s plan.

Looking on the bright side, McConnell noted that the combined four votes showed there is bipartisan support to stop the EPA from implementing the new regulations.

“Altogether, more than 60 senators voted in favor of four amendments that, to one degree or another, would restrain the EPA’s power to regulate carbon emissions from farmers, manufacturers, and power plants,” said McConnell in a statement after the votes.  “We in the Senate will continue to fight for legislation that will give the certainty that no unelected bureaucrat at the EPA is going to make efforts to create jobs even more difficult than the administration already has.”

The cap-and-trade policies have been pushed by congressional Democrats and President Obama for almost two years.  The House Democrats passed cap and trade by seven votes in June 2009, but the bill died in the Senate.

As the Republicans were about to take control of the House this past December, the Obama Administration instituted new EPA regulations to put cap-and-trade policies into effect.  Obama’s EPA used the CAA as a vehicle for the new regulations, which impose a tax in the form of carbon emissions to businesses to regulate their greenhouse gasses.

“The agency began with automobiles, declaring that their emissions endangered public health and welfare,” said Upton.  “That single endangerment finding has since been used by EPA to launch an unparalleled regulatory onslaught.”

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