Rep. Fred Upton in Politico: Aiding environment and economy
Some in Washington insist that our nation's environmental concerns are at odds with our economic ones. They say job protection must be sacrificed for clean air and water, or healthy economic growth cannot exist with healthy families and communities.
In fact, if our goal is to do right by the planet, we ought to keep energy production and manufacturing here in America by striking an appropriate regulatory balance. If environmental rules end up chasing jobs overseas to countries that have no clean air and water protections, the planet will suffer right along with our economy.
Earth Day is an annual recognition that we all benefit from a clean, safe environment. It's the perfect opportunity to dispel the myth that what's good for our economy must be bad for our planet.
The Energy and Commerce Committee is committed to reconciling our nation's environmental and economic goals. We created a subcommittee for that very purpose. The Environment and the Economy Subcommittee, with Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) as chairman, is scrutinizing the economic and environmental consequences of regulations in a way that neither Congress nor the administration has ever done.
This review is important because it sets the stage for sensible energy and environmental policy. We need to understand the consequences of current rules and regulations to maintain what's working, eliminate what's not and strengthen protections where gaps exist.
Earlier this year, House Republicans launched the American Energy Initiative, to pave the way for common-sense energy reform. The truth is, Americans want Washington to get out of the way so we can produce more U.S. energy, lower gas prices and help small business begin hiring again.
We can do that with three sensible goals: stopping government policies that are driving up energy prices, expanding U.S. energy production to lower costs and create more jobs, and promoting an "all of the above" strategy to increase all forms of U.S. energy.
In the past, energy and environmental legislation has been passed in omnibus form -- massive pieces of legislation that attempt to solve every problem or address every issue in one fell swoop. The strategy was not limited to one party. But it culminated in the complex and controversial cap-and-trade legislation, which squeaked through the House and failed in the Senate.
The lesson from that legislation -- and other similarly massive proposals -- is that bigger is not always better. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) let it be known that the days of 2,000-page bills are over.
The American people, the legislative process and a lot of trees will benefit because of it.
An incremental approach to energy reform allows Congress to thoughtfully and constructively examine all the nuances of the policy discussion. Comprehensive legislation, in contrast, lends itself to opaque political trade-offs that don't always make for sound public policy.
Congress could eliminate the uncertainty and red tape that have delayed oil production off the outer continental shelf in Alaska by five years. This could -- with other production in the Alaska OCS -- bring online an additional 1 million barrels per day of U.S. oil.
Separately, we could free up the long-stalled approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring an additional 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada.
Eliminating these bureaucratic barriers does not require thousands of pages of legislative text. It simply requires that Congress acknowledge that these problems can be solved individually.
Each of these policies is rooted in the understanding that abundant, affordable energy will help our economy grow and thrive. It is also based on our belief that we can achieve economic growth in a way that protects our environment.
One major objection to recent environmental regulations is that they produce economic pain with no environmental gain.
For example, we heard testimony earlier this year that stringent reporting regulations for ink recycling end up treating some retail printing facilities as if they were large chemical manufacturers. Because the burden of compliance can outweigh the economic benefit, environmental rules have the perverse effect of discouraging recycling for these facilities.
This Earth Day, let's celebrate the fact that a strong economy and responsible environmental standards support each other. If we neglect one, we could risk losing the other.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
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