Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield from Kentucky, who serves as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, has made it clear that he will do everything in his power to push several bills that will strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to protect the public from pollution spewing from utility plants. Whitfield joins the chorus of Republicans and industry leaders who claim that emission standards are too costly for businesses and, as a result, will cost the economy desperately needed jobs.
The specific rule that Whitfield is working to repeal involves standards that would require utilities to install devices to capture as much CO2 as possible from industrial boilers and waste incinerators, a move the EPA estimates would prevent thousands of premature deaths from heart attacks and respiratory illnesses every year. The American Petroleum Institute successfully lobbied the EPA in April to postpone the rule until the public and industry leaders had a chance to air their concerns, which the EPA will be receiving until July 15th. Whitfield is hoping that new legislation will kill the proposal once and for all.
It should come as no surprise that Whitfield is working so diligently to protect the energy industry from paying to reduce their pollution. Over the course of his 13-year career in the House of Representatives, Whitfield has received a total of $305,115 from electric utilities, $238,247 from oil and gas companies, and another $161,177 from mining interests - $704,539 in polluter money. His position as Chair of the Energy and Power subcommittee allows his dirty energy benefactors to reap untold rewards for their industries.
His record before being Chair of the Energy and Power Subcommittee shows a clear preference towards the energy industry. He voted in favor of creating more oil refineries and speeding up the permit approval process for facilities. He voted against the offshore oil drilling moratorium, and against repealing oil industry subsidies. He’s also voted against raising vehicle fuel economy standards, and against providing tax incentives and subsidies for renewable energy projects.
Whitfield is planning to fast track his disastrous plans when Congress returns from a summer break in July.
Mark Jaccard is professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University.
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