Energy Tax Prevention Act

On April 6, 2011, 50 Senators voted for S. 482, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, a bill to stop EPA from ‘legislating’ climate policy under the guise of implementing the Clean Air Act. Supporters needed 60 votes to pass the bill. “Senate Definitively Beats Back Efforts to Restrict EPA Climate Rules,” declared the title of Inside EPA’s column (April 8, 2011) on the vote. That is spin masquerading as news.

Let’s review some not-so-ancient history. In 2003, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced S. 139, the Climate Stewardship Act, a carbon cap-and-trade bill. It was defeated by a vote of 43-55. In 2005, McCain and Lieberman introduced a revised version, S. 1151, the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. It went down in flames by a bigger margin: 38-60. In 2007, McLieberman introduced yet another iteration (S. 280), which never even made it to the floor for a vote.

In three different Congresses, the McLieberman bill died in the Senate. After these continual defeats, did Inside EPA, the bill’s sponsors, or any environmental group declare that the Senate “definitively” rejected cap-and-trade?

Of course not. Yet S. 482 garnered more votes than any cap-and-trade bill the Senate has ever debated. Sponsors of S. 482 say they will press for other opportunities to hold additional votes. The day after the Senate vote, the House passed an identical measure (H.R. 910) by a vote of 255-172, a large victory margin that should improve prospects for eventual passage in the Senate. 

Another vote could occur as early as next month when Congress debates whether to raise the national debt ceiling. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested last week that legislation to raise the debt ceiling — a key priority for Team Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed (D-Nev.) — might have to include curbs on EPA’s regulatory authority (The Hill, April 16, 2011). 

Since reports of S. 482’s demise are greatly exaggerated, it is useful to examine the tactics of leading Senate opponents. Previous posts review California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s tirade against S. 482 and Montana Sen. Max Baucus’s alternative legislation to codify EPA’s ever-growing ensemble of greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations. Today’s post offers a running commentary on New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s floor statement opposing S. 482 (Congressional Record, April 6, 2011, pp. S2170-71). If Lautenberg’s rant is the best opponents can do, they have “definitively” lost the debate. [click to continue…]

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House Committee Acts To Stop President’s de facto Drilling Moratorium

The House Natural Resources Committee marked up three bills on Wednesday that would require the Obama Administration to stop its obstructive tactics and start producing more oil and natural gas from federal Outer Continental Shelf areas.  Committee Democrats dragged out the mark-up for nine hours by offering and insisting on recorded votes on a series of amendments to weaken or gut the three bills—H. R. 1229, 1230, and 1231.  None of their amendments was adopted.

It is expected that the House will pass all three bills in May.  Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) plans to introduce additional bills in the next few months to increase domestic oil and gas production on federal lands in Alaska and the Rocky Mountains as part of House Republicans’ American Energy Initiative.

House Leadership Tacitly Endorses Excellent EPA Strategy

Environment and Energy News reported this week that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) did not rule out attaching something like the Energy Tax Prevention Act (H. R. 910) to the bill to raise the federal debt ceiling.  H. R. 910 would block the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  It passed the House last week on a 255 to 172 vote, but failed as an amendment in the Senate on a 50 to 50 vote.

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If Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in the House, or Sens.  Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Harry Reed (D-Nev.) in the Senate, were to introduce legislation authorizing EPA to use the Clean Air Act (CAA) as it sees fit to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs), would the bill have any chance of passing in either chamber of Congress?

No. Aside from a few diehard global warming zealots, hardly any Member of Congress would vote for such a bill. Most lawmakers would run from such legislation even faster than the Senate last year ditched cap-and-trade after its outing as a hidden tax on energy. 

Now consider what that implies. If even today, after nearly two decades of global warming advocacy by the United Nations, eco-pressure groups, ‘progressive’ politicians, left-leaning media, corporate rent-seekers, and celebrity activists, Congress would not pass a bill authorizing EPA to regulate GHGs, then isn’t it patently ridiculous for EPA and its apologists to claim that when Congress enacted the CAA in 1970 — years before global warming was a gleam in Al Gore’s eye — it gave EPA that very power?

These simple questions cut through the fog of sophistry emitted by the likes of Waxman, Markey, and Boxer to defend EPA’s hijacking of legislative power. As I have explained elsewhere in detail (here, herehere, and here), EPA, under the aegis of the Supreme Court’s poorly-reasoned, agenda-driven decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, is using the CAA in ways Congress never intended and never subsequently approved. EPA is defying the separation of powers. It should be stopped. [click to continue…]

Post image for House Passes Energy Tax Prevention Act, 255-172

The House of Representatives this afternoon passed H. R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, by a vote of 255 to 172.  Nineteen Democrats voted Yes.  No Republicans voted No.  This is a remarkable turnaround from the last Congress when on 26th June 2009 the House voted 219 to 212 to pass the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.

The Energy Tax Prevention Act, sponsored by Rep. Fred. Upton (R-Mich.), the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and thereby put a potentially huge indirect tax on American consumers and businesses.   Coal, oil, and natural gas produce carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, when burned.  Those three fuels provide over 80% of the energy used in America.  Thus regulating carbon dioxide emissions essentially puts the EPA in charge of running the U. S. economy.

This is just the first step in stopping the Obama Administration’s attempt to raise energy prices .  The House bill now heads to the Senate, where yesterday an attempt to add the Energy Tax Prevention Act (introduced in the Senate as S. 482 by Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma) as an amendment to another bill was defeated on a 50-50 vote.  Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s amendment would have required 60 votes to be attached to S. 493.  Four Democrats joined 46 Republicans in voting for the amendment–Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.  Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote No.

The strong House vote in favor of the Energy Tax Prevention Act should build new momentum to pass it in the Senate later this year.  Of course, the White House has already issued a veto threat, which shows that President Obama is not interested in creating new jobs and restoring prosperity to America.  Congress has now rejected cap-and-tax resoundingly, but the President still hopes to achieve through backdoor regulation his goals of skyrocketing electric rates and gasoline prices at the $10 a gallon European level.

Post image for How Many Agencies Does It Take to Regulate Fuel Economy?

How many agencies does it take to regulate fuel economy?

Only one — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) — if we follow the law (1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act); three — NHTSA + EPA + the California Air Resources Board — if law is trumped by the backroom, “put nothing in writing,” Presidential Records Act-defying deal negotiated by former Obama Environment Czar Carol Browner.

Tomorrow, the Senate is expected to vote on S. 493, the McConnell amendment, which is identical to S. 482, the Inhofe-Upton Energy Tax Prevention Act. S. 493 would overturn all of EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations except for the GHG/fuel economy standards EPA and NHTSA jointly issued for new motor vehicles covering model years 2012-2016, and the GHG/fuel economy standards the agencies have proposed for medium- and heavy-duty trucks covering model years 2014-2018. The legislation would leave intact NHTSA’s separate statutory authority to regulate fuel economy standards for automobiles after model year 2016 and trucks after model year 2018.

Bear in mind that GHG emission standards and fuel economy standards are largely duplicative. As EPA acknowledges, 94-95% of all GHG emissions from motor vehicles are carbon dioxide (CO2) from the combustion of motor fuels. And as EPA and NHTSA acknowledge, “there is a single pool of technologies for addressing these twin problems [climate change, oil dependence], i.e., those that reduce fuel consumption and thereby reduce CO2 emissions as well” (Joint GHG/Fuel Economy Rule, p. 25327).

The National Auto Dealers Association (NADA), whose members know a thing or two about what it takes to meet the needs of the car-buying public, sent a letter to the Senate today urging a “Yes” vote on S. 493. NADA stresses three points. S. 493 would:

  • End, after 2016, the current triple regulation of fuel economy by three different agencies (NHTSA, EPA, and California) under three different rules.
  • Restore a true single national fuel economy standard under the CAFE program, with rules set by Congress, not unelected officials. Ensure jobs, consumer choice, and highway safety are considered according to federal law when setting a fuel economy standard.
  • Save taxpayers millions of dollars by ending EPA’s duplicative fuel economy regime after 2016.

Let’s examine the first two points in a bit more detail. The NADA letter says: [click to continue…]

Post image for EPA Provides the Cash, American Lung Association Hits Upton and the Energy Tax Prevention Act

The American Lung Association is right up there with the Union of Concerned Scientists as a leftist activist organization pretending to be a professional association with high-minded objectives.  In fact, the American Lung Association is a bunch of political thugs.  Their latest hit job is putting up billboards in Rep. Fred Upton’s district in Michigan that urge him to “protect our kids’ health. Don’t weaken the Clean Air Act (PDF).” The billboard has a photo of an adolescent girl with a respirator.

The American Lung Association is opposing a bill, the Energy Tax Prevention Act (H. R. 910), that is sponsored by Rep. Upton, the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Upton’s bill, which is expected to be debated on the House floor in early April, does nothing to weaken the Clean Air Act.  It simply prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Congress never intended the Clean Air Act to be used to enforce global warming policies on the American people.  As my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis recently noted, attempts to add provisions to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 that would allow the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions were defeated in the Senate.  A similar attempt in the House went nowhere.

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Today at Pajamas Media.Com, I discuss the latest stratagem of the greenhouse lobby to protect EPA’s purloined power to dictate national climate and energy policy: Sen. Max Baucus’s (D-Mont.) amendment to the small business reauthorization bill.
The Baucus amendment would essentially codify EPA’s Tailoring Rule, which exempts small greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters from Clean Air Act (CAA) permitting requirements.
That may seem innocent enough. However, if enacted, the Baucus amendment would also codify the ever-growing ensemble of EPA climate initiatives of which the Tailoring Rule is only a small piece.
EPA’s current and probable future climate regulations include GHG/fuel-economy standards for all categories of mobile sources (cars, trucks, marine vessels, aircraft, non-road vehicles and engines) and GHG/energy-efficiency standards for dozens of industrial source categories. 
Congress, however, never authorized EPA to determine fuel economy standards for motor vehicles, much less dictate national policy on climate change. The Baucus amendment would put Congress’s legislative stamp of approval on EPA’s end-run around the legislative process.
The amendment has almost no chance of passing in the GOP-led House of Representatives. However, it does not need to pass to perpetuate EPA’s shocking power grab. All it has to do is peel off enough votes in the Senate to prevent passage of the Inhofe-Upton Energy Tax Prevention Act. That bill, which is almost certain to pass in the House, would overturn most of EPA’s current GHG regulations and stop the agency permanently from promulgating climate change policies Congress never approved.
Whether the Baucus amendment is adopted or just blocks passage of Inhofe-Upton, the U.S. economy will be exposed to the risk that EPA will be litigated into establishing national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for GHGs, and to the risk that EPA will use BACT (“best available control technology”) determinations and NSPS (New Source Performance Standards) to restrict America’s access to affordable, carbon-based energy. [click to continue…]

Post image for H.R. 910: Seizing the Moral High Ground (How to Foil Opponents’ Rhetorical Tricks)

Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, as amended, by 34-19. The bill would stop EPA from ‘legislating’ climate policy through the Clean Air Act. All 31 Republicans and three Democrats (Mike Ross of Arkansas, Jim Matheson of Utah, and John Barrow of Georgia) voted for the bill.

Opponents introduced several amendments, all of which were defeated.

Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) offered an amendment stating that Congress accepts EPA’s finding that “climate change is unequivocal.” Rep. Diana DeGett (D-Colo.) offered an amendment stating that Congress accepts as “compelling” the scientific evidence that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the “root cause” of climate change. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) offered an amendment stating that Congress accepts EPA’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) offered an amendment limiting H.R. 910’s applicability until the Secretary of Defense certifies that climate change does not threaten U.S. national security interests. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) offered an amendment allowing EPA to issue greenhouse gas regulations that reduce U.S. oil consumption. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) offered an amendment limiting H.R. 910’s applicability until the Centers for Disease Control certify that climate change is not a public health threat. Rep.  Inslee also offered an amendment limiting H.R. 910’s applicability until the National Academy of Sciences certifies the bill would not increase the incidence of asthma in children.

These amendments had no chance of passing, but that was not their purpose. The objective, rather, was to enable opponents to claim later, when the full House debates the bill, that a vote for H.R. 910 is a vote against science, public health, national security, energy security, and children with asthma. This is arrant nonsense, as I will explain below. [click to continue…]

Post image for Senate Update: McConnell Amendment Vote

The Senate may vote today on the McConnell Amendment to S. 493.  The amendment is identical to S. 482, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which was passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday evening, with bipartisan support. The legislation would revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Although this looked like a long shot when Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) surprised everyone by offering it yesterday, the Democratic leadership realized late yesterday afternoon that they might lose.  That’s when Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced his two-year delay bill as an amendment.  That has fallen flat.  The outcome appears to be in doubt this morning.  There could be a vote and McConnell’s amendment could pass narrowly.  There could be a vote and the amendment could fail narrowly.  There could be a deal on all the amendments pending and the amendment could be withdrawn as part of the deal.  McConnell could pull the amendment because it’s going to fail.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) could pull the bill from the floor because the amendment is going to pass.

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Last Thursday, the House Energy & Power Subcommittee, on a voice vote, approved H.R. 910, the “Energy Tax Prevention Act.” My colleague Myron Ebell blogged about it over the weekend in a post titled Inside the Beltway.

The present post offers additional commentary. The full House Energy and Commerce Committee marks up the legislation today and tomorrow.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) led the charge for the minority, claiming H.R. 910 “rolls back” the Clean Air Act. Wrong. H.R. 910 restores the Clean Air Act (CAA). Congress never intended the CAA to be a framework for greenhouse gas regulation, and never subsequently voted for it to be used as such a framework. The terms “greenhouse gas” and “greenhouse effect” never even occur in the Act, which was enacted in 1970, years before global warming was even a gleam in Al Gore’s eye.  [click to continue…]