Post image for This Week in the Congress

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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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 Does Sen. Jay Rockefeller Serve West Virginians or Harry Reid?

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).

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