Energy & Commerce Hearing: What the Energy Tax Prevention Act Is — and Is Not — about

by Marlo Lewis on February 9, 2011

in Blog

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I’m watching the House Energy and Commerce hearing on the Inhofe-Upton-Whitfield draft legislation, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, to stop EPA from ‘enacting’ climate policy through the regulatory backdoor.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is off to his usual demagoguery, claiming that Messrs. Inhofe, Upton, and Whitfield are trying to “re-write the laws of nature.” He accuses them of trying to overturn EPA’s endangerment finding (which he equates with SCIENCE) by legislative fiat. The premise of the bill, he says, is that climate change is a hoax.

Poppycock. Read the draft legislation. It says nothing about climate science. The bill’s real premises are:

  • Congress never delegated to EPA the truly awesome (and potentially economy-crushing) power to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • The Clean Air Act is an unsuitable framework for greenhouse gas regulation — proven by the fact that EPA had to “tailor” — that is, unconstitutionally amend — the Act in order to avoid “absurd results” contrary to congressional intent. For more on this topic, see here, here, and here.
  • EPA regulation of greenhouse gases via the Clean Air Act is bound to be less efficient and is potentially far more costly than the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that Congress considered too costly to pass.
  • Climate policy is too important to be made by anyone but the people’s representatives.
  • More broadly, only the people’s elected representatives, not politically unaccountable bureaucrats, have the constitutional authority to determine the content and direction of national policy.

Predictably, Waxman is trying to turn the hearing into a debate on whether climate change is real or a hoax. Supporters of the Energy Tax Prevention Act should not take this bait and allow Waxman to take the spotlight off the central issue.

To repeat, that issue is not whether climate change is real or dangerous. It is whether the Constitution authorizes EPA to ‘legislate’ climate policy.

Waxman asks: Shouldn’t Congress first decide whether climate change is real and dangerous before we consider a bill like this? No. Congress’s first job is to ensure that Congress, not EPA, calls the shots on climate policy. Only after Congress is back in the constitutional driver’s seat does it make sense for Congress to debate the scientific case for or against any particular climate policy option.

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