On Tuesday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives moved one step closer to passing a bill to permanently prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating global warming pollution. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill, H.R. 910 or the “Energy Tax Prevention Act,” in a vote that fell mostly along party lines.
Under the guise of lowering gas prices, the bill would deliver several very lethal blows to EPA efforts to address climate change – and to President Obama’s energy agenda – by:
Prohibiting the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide and six others) in connection with climate change.
Repealing previous EPA actions and rules on climate, overturning the EPA’s science-based endangerment finding stating that greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, threaten public health and therefore are “air pollutants” which must be regulated.
Prohibiting Clean Air Act standards for improving vehicle fuel efficiency after 2016.
Preventing the EPA from allowing ambitious states, such as California, to set tougher vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gases.
In a misleading attempt to gain public support for the bill, Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one of the bill’s co-sponsors, has been claiming that the bill would keep gas prices in check by reducing additional EPA regulations on oil refineries. “Make no mistake – if we allow the EPA to move forward unchecked, its actions will only drive gasoline and other energy prices higher,” Upton said in the L.A. Times.
However, Politifact, the nonpartisan Pulitzer Prize-winning project that serves as a political truth-o-meter, found Upton’s claim to be absolutely false, saying “there’s no proof that the law would actually stop gas prices from rising.” Additionally, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson pointed out before two U.S. House subcommittees last week that:
Unbothered by the truth, Upton and others nonetheless continued to repeat this unfounded claim throughout committee proceedings.
House Democrats offered three failed amendments to insert language into the bill acknowledging EPA findings – which the National Academy of Sciences also strongly confirmed – on the science of climate change. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas)., who last year apologized to BP during Gulf oil spill hearings, ignorantly dismissed climate change as “a theory that hasn’t been proven” while other Republicans made the point that Congress shouldn’t be “legislating science,” even as they moved legislation forward to do precisely that.
To that end, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) likened House Republican efforts to undo EPA’s science-based findings with the “way the Vatican was able to repeal the finding of Galileo.” (For the record, the Vatican eventually ‘fessed up to being wrong.)
While 31 Republicans and three Democrats in the House – all unsurprisingly funded by climate policy saboteurs, Koch Industries – voted to dismantle portions of the popular Clean Air Act, diverse groups have voiced their opposition to H.R. 910, including small business and consumer interests, former military officers, health and medical professionals, and, of course, scientists.
On the other hand, the bill has plenty of support from big industry polluters, who reportedly gave it the go-ahead during a secret meeting in January with the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Upton and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.). The full House will vote on – and likely pass – the bill later this spring, probably before the Congressional break for Easter at the end of April. Meanwhile, Democrats in the Senate are scrambling to rebuff similar last-minute efforts to handcuff the EPA’s climate authority as part of an unrelated vote this week. Unfortunately, these kinds of attacks on the EPA are becoming disturbing and regular occurrences that aren’t likely to disappear any time soon.