Whitfield Discusses Need to Hit "the Pause Button" on EPA Regulation While Congress Prepares to Act

February 16, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - This evening on the House Floor, Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) engaged in a colloquy with Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) to discuss provisions in the Continuing Resolution government funding package that would temporarily block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. This temporary halt on the EPA's overreaching regulatory efforts will happen in conjunction with efforts to permanently make clear that such regulations were never envisioned by Congress under current law.

Whitfield joined Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) earlier this month in unveiling a discussion draft of the Energy Tax Prevention Act, a proposal to permanently clarify that the EPA is not authorized to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The House is currently debating a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government for the rest of FY 2011. Included in the funding measure is a provision that would block the EPA from taking further action in this area for the rest of this year. The funding limitation will allow Congress to carefully and thoroughly debate a permanent clarification to the Clean Air Act to ensure it remains a strong tool for protecting public health by regulating and mitigating air pollutants, and that it is not transformed into a vehicle to impose a national energy tax.

Video from the floor and full text of the colloquy explaining the complementary congressional efforts on this issue is included below.

Chairman Whitfield: 
Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word. I'm wondering if the gentleman from Idaho, Mr. Simpson, would be willing to engage in a colloquy with me concerning the climate change provision in the bill? I ask the gentleman if he can explain section 1746 of the bill to me.

Congressman Simpson:
I would be happy to. Section 1746 hits the pause button on EPA's effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions because of what I think are unfounded fears about global climate change.  As the Chairman knows, over the last two years, EPA Administrator Jackson has been very busy creating an enormous body of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.  These regulations will cost jobs, drive up energy costs, and further imperil the American economy.

EPA's GHG regulations need to be stopped in their tracks, and that's what section 1746 does - it provides a timeout for the balance of the fiscal year, during which time EPA will be prohibited from acting on them or enforcing them. Section 1746 is intended to halt all of the regulations that we feel will harm the economy.  It is not intended to affect permitting or other matters unrelated to GHG emissions, such as construction starts or permit approvals.

Chairman Whitfield:
I thank the gentleman.  I could not agree with him more.  EPA's regulations are an attempt by unelected bureaucrats to slip in through the regulatory backdoor what Congress has thus far wisely blocked from coming in through the front door.   EPA's regulations will lead to higher costs for the coal, oil, and natural gas industries that comprise 85 percent of America's energy mix, burdening both individuals and businesses and destroying jobs. Let me ask the gentleman, is this a debate about global warming science? 

Congressman Simpson:
No, it is not even necessary to be a climate change skeptic to be an EPA GHG regulation skeptic. These regulations are all economic pain for little if any environmental gain.   EPA can only regulate American companies, and we know that China already emits more carbon dioxide than we do, its rate of emissions growth is many times faster than ours, and the Chinese government has repeatedly made clear that they will never impose such job-destroying regulatory measures on themselves.  Even Administrator Lisa Jackson has conceded that unilateral action would have a negligible impact on future temperatures.

Chairman Whitfield:
The Committee on Energy and Commerce has released a discussion draft, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, that would block EPA's global warming agenda under the Clean Air Act.  The bill does not weaken the Clean Air Act.  The bill will have no effect on the agency's ongoing efforts to deal with smog, soot, lead, mercury and all the other air pollutants that have been addressed under the Clean Air Act. 

It is simply a bill to stop the agency from issuing climate change regulations absent Congressional approval, avoiding the "glorious mess" that Congressman Dingell has referred to, because the Clean Air Act was never designed to regulate greenhouse gases.   
As it is, EPA's global warming regulatory agenda, which it is just beginning to roll out, is so open ended that it is already having a chilling effect on investment and job creation. 
And the longer it moves forward, the more domestic manufacturing jobs will be forced overseas to countries not similarly burdened.

Congressman Simpson:
When do you expect Congress to act on the Energy Tax Prevention Act?

Chairman Whitfield:
The discussion draft has been released, and we had our first hearing on February 9th.  
We heard from a wide range of industries, the very job creators we are relying on to get America back to work, and nearly all of them say that EPA's GHG regulations are an unprecedented threat.  We will continue to gather information, hold additional hearings, and we welcome constructive criticism of the draft in its present form. This CR provision is Congress hitting the pause button during the very brief period of the CR, allowing time to go through regular order and pass the Upton-Inhofe bill.  

Congressman Simpson:
I commend the gentleman for his leadership in addressing EPA's regulatory onslaught head on.  I hope that section 1746's brief timeout will give you the time you need to get a strong bill enacted into law.

Chairman Whitfield:
I thank the gentleman for his time.

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