Stimulus spending on environmentalist policy is a green albatross around the neck of President Barack Obama. Inspectors General are having a field day auditing stimulus-funded programs for so-called “green jobs,” and the media LOVES stories about wasted taxpayer money. What started as a sop to his environmentalist base, now threatens to become a slow-drip nightmare of negative press. The timing couldn’t be worse for the President. It takes time to disburse scores of billions of dollars, so we are only now starting to scrutinize stimulus spending. By November 2012, we’ll be able to account for most of the money, and unless the current trend changes radically, the Executive in Chief is going to look conspicuously incompetent.
Here’s the back-story: In early 2009, the Executive and Legislative branches of government had a popular mandate to defibrillate America’s moribund economy with a huge injection of taxpayer dollars. Instead of limiting this “stimulus” to state bailouts and infrastructure spending, the Obama administration (led by climate “czar” and former EPA administrator Carol Browner) and the Congressional majority (led by House Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills)) also sought to advance environmentalist policy. As a result, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a. the stimulus, included almost $70 billion in spending for green jobs and renewable energy infrastructure.
Every single link along the green energy supply chain was showered with subsidies. There was funding for green jobs training, funding for factories to make green products, and funding to incentivize demand for green goods and services. It was as like a green Gosplan!
[click to continue…]
A week ago, I poked fun at Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) for acting the fool during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Republican legislation that would speed the permitting process for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Yet I also noted,
“While I disagree with everything he does, I nonetheless esteem Rep. Waxman as a master tactician. More than once, I’ve wished that the other party had someone as cunning as the Congressman from Beverly Hills.”
Last week, Rep. Waxman was off his game; this week, I’m sad to say, he has returned to form. Energy and Environment News (subscription required) reported this morning that Rep. Waxman and Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) yesterday fired off a letter to Committee Republicans, demanding the holdup of the “Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act” (a.k.a., the TRAIN Act) over some arcane procedural matter. This sort of nitpicky stonewalling is classic Waxman.
[click to continue…]
I’ve long suspected that Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) keeps Brawny paper towels in his kitchen cabinet. Brawny paper towels are the best—they’re the quickest, thickest picker-uppers—and Rep. Waxman lives in one of the richest Congressional districts, so it makes sense that he uses them, right? I think it does. Rep. Waxman’s logical affinity for Brawny paper towels is troubling, because they are manufactured by Georgia Pacific, which is owned by….KOCH INDUSTRIES!!! Possibly, every time Rep. Waxman wipes spilled caviar off his marble countertops, he’s funding the insidious KOCHTOPUS!!! I doubt his far-left base would appreciate this apparent financial link to a company reviled by liberals for supporting conservative causes. Why, it’s as if Rep. Waxman is contributing to the Tea Party!
I know what you are thinking: These are baseless and ridiculous claims. Indeed. Yet they are no more baseless and ridiculous than the stunt Rep. Waxman pulled yesterday at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Keystone XL Pipeline. I explained in detail the politics of the pipeline in a previous post. Suffice it to say, it would double U.S. imports of Canadian tar sands oil, and it is staunchly opposed by environmentalist special interests. The focus of yesterday’s hearing was a Republican bill that would speed up the pipeline approval process, but Rep. Waxman wanted to take the panel in a different direction. Namely, he wanted to fabricate an association between the Keystone Pipeline and the left’s favorite piñata, Koch Industries, a.k.a, the Kochtopus.
[click to continue…]
The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday marked up and passed H. R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, by a 34 to 19 vote. All 31 Republicans on the committee supported Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) bill. They were joined by three Democrats—Representatives John Barrow (D-Ga.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), and Mike Ross (D-Ark.).
The mark-up started on Monday afternoon with opening statements from members of the committee and then lasted most of Tuesday. A number of amendments offered by Democrats were variations on the theme that the Congress accepts that global warming science is settled and that it’s a crisis. All these amendments were defeated easily, but, as my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis points out, Republican supporters of the bill for the most part didn’t defend the bill very well against the Democrats’ attacks.
What the proponents should argue, but did not in committee mark-up, is that H. R. 910 is not about the science or what we should do about potential global warming. The bill simply says that the EPA cannot use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions until the Congress authorizes it to do so. Chairman Upton’s bill is designed to re-assert congressional authority to make laws (which the Constitution gives Congress the sole authority to do) and rein in an out-of-control executive branch.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that passing the Upton bill is a priority. It is now expected that the bill could be debated on the House floor as soon as the week of 27th March. On 26th June 2009, the House Democratic leadership railroaded the mammoth Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill through the House in a single day of debate with only one Republican amendment allowed to be offered. The Republican leadership under Boehner is doing things differently, so there will probably be several days of debate with numerous amendments considered. The bill should pass easily, with almost unanimous Republican and significant Democratic support.
Late in the 111th Congress, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was building bipartisan support for a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Due to a parliamentary quirk, the Resolution needed only a majority to pass (that is, it wouldn’t necessitate 60 votes to beat a filibuster) and it was entitled to a vote, so the Democratic leadership in the Senate could not sweep it under a rug. Moreover, there are 23 Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2012, and the political mood of the country in the summer of 2010 was shifting right. (This was evidenced by the GOP’s success in last November’s elections.) As such, an EPA reform bill was an attractive vote for many Senate Democrats from purple states, where the EPA is held is lower esteem than in, say, California or New York. As a result of these factors, Sen. Murkowski’s Resolution appeared to have good prospects.
Enter Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). Just as Sen. Murkowski’s Resolution was gaining steam, Sen. Rockefeller introduced legislation that would delay the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases for two years, rather than repeal its authority outright (as Sen. Murkowski’s Resolution would have done).
[click to continue…]
The House of Representatives took the first step on Thursday toward reclaiming its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy and Power (yes, that really is its name) Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee marked up and passed H. R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which is sponsored by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). H. R. 910 would pre-empt EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Act unless and until explicitly authorized to do so by Congress.
Actually, there was no marking up. The Democrats opposed to the bill offered no amendments, and the bill was passed on a voice vote. The full Committee has scheduled a mark-up of the bill next Monday and Tuesday. That means H. R. 910 could come to the House floor by early April. There is no doubt that it will pass the House by a wide margin. The only question is how many Democrats will end up voting for it. My guess is that quite a few Democrats are worried about getting re-elected and will therefore vote for it.
The subcommittee meeting was one long whine by minority Democrats. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), the ranking Democrat on the full committee and chief sponsor of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that failed in the last Congress, said that H. R. 910 would codify science denial. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) chimed in that he was worried the Republicans would try to repeal the law of gravity. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) instead thought that Republicans were trying to repeal the first law of thermodynamics and cause children all over the world to get asthma.
Preventing asthma is now the principal reason brought forward by the global warming alarmists in Congress to cripple the U. S. economy with energy-rationing regulations. Here is what I learned from a ninety-second internet search: “The majority of people with asthma notice that cold, dry air causes more symptoms than mild-temperature or hot, humid air.” Of course, some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists have recently found that global warming is causing a lot of cold weather.
[click to continue…]
Yesterday morning, the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee met to mark up H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, but the results was a foregone conclusion. As they say in poker, Republicans had the “nuts.” The legislation, which would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, was co-written by Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI), and it enjoyed the support of all the Rs on the panel. Subcommittee Chair Ed Whitfield (KY) didn’t even bother with a roll call, and the Democrats on the panel didn’t object, so the bill passed by a voice vote alone.
Indeed, the only mystery to yesterday’s vote was whether any of the Subcommittee Democrats would side with the majority party. Already, senior House Democrats Colin Peterson (MN) and Nick Rahall (WV) have sponsored H.R. 910. The most likely Democratic defection, heading into yesterday’s markup, was Utah Rep. Tim Matheson, but he stayed in lock step with his party.
[click to continue…]
There wasn’t much to report from yesterday’s climate change science hearing before the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Generally speaking, Republican lawmakers used the entirety of their allotted time to question the scientists they had invited, and Democratic lawmakers did likewise. Click here for opening statements, and also for an archived podcast of the hearing.
Truth be told, the hearing’s pedigree is more interesting than the hearing was. Last week, the same subcommittee held a hearing on pending EPA regulations for greenhouse gases, in order to inform the debate on H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, legislation that would check the EPA’s authority to enact climate policy under the Clean Air Act. During these hearings, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), who is a master parliamentarian, leveraged an obscure procedural rule to demand a hearing of the minority party’s choosing. Subcommittee Chair Rep. Ed Whitfield, in an act of Congressional comity, granted the request. Ergo, yesterday’s “dueling science” hearing.
There was one notable element to yesterday’s action: The extent to which the center is moving away from the Democratic leadership on energy and environment policy. Rather feebly, Rep. Waxman concluded by asking that the majority party agree to postpone tomorrow’s scheduled mark up of H.R. 910…until Tuesday. It was a weak negotiating tactic.
[click to continue…]