The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee has scheduled a mark-up session on H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011. The bill would legislate out of existence the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s scientifically based determination that carbon pollution poses threats to public health and the environment. It would eliminate a key policy tool for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by stripping EPA’s statutory authority and responsibility to regulate carbon pollution from power plants, oil refineries, and other stationary sourcs, and prevent carbon emission standards for cars and trucks from being strengthened in the future.
The subcommittee mark-up of H.R. 910, co-sponsored by subcommittee chair Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky) and full committee chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), will be held on Thursday, March 10 at 9:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Opening statements, amendments, and a live (and presumably archived) webcast will be available online at http://energycommerce.house.gov.
EPA plans to propose rules for power plants by July 26, 2011, and finalize them by May 26, 2012. Proposed standards for refineries would be released by December 10, 2011, with a final rule due on November 10, 2012. H.R. 910 would permanently bar EPA from regulating carbon, with an exemption for vehicle tailpipe emissions rules through model year 2016, which are already in effect as of January 2011. After 2016, EPA would no longer be allowed to establish additional fuel economy standards and states could not secure waivers to draft their own.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California), the ranking Democratic minority member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement March 3 on the introduction of the bill, which has a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma):
“The Upton-Inhofe bill is an affront to science. It exempts the nation’s largest polluters from regulation at the expense of public health and energy security. This proposal may be good for Koch Oil but it would gut the landmark Clean Air Act and prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from addressing the enormous threat posed by carbon pollution. I remain committed to fighting this and other Republican efforts to weaken the laws that form the cornerstone of public health and environmental protections in our nation.”
Rep. Waxman has called the bill “breathtakingly dangerous”. As Lauren Morello reported in Climate Wire today (subscription required), during the Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing yesterday on “Climate Science and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations”:
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, brushed aside an appeal from the full committee's top Democrat, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), to postpone tomorrow's markup of the EPA-blocking measure, H.R. 910.
"I hope we could come up with a more nuanced, reasonable policy," Waxman said yesterday at a hearing convened by Whitfield's subcommittee. Democrats are prepared to negotiate "with no preconditions," he said, calling the GOP bill "breathtakingly dangerous."
Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) also urged Republicans to shelve their markup plans. "We should be more deliberative," he said.
But the arguments didn't sway Whitfield, who said Democrats would have ample opportunity to air their views during this week's subcommittee markup, a subsequent full committee markup and eventually, a House floor debate.
Rep. Waxman expects the subcommittee to approve the bill, but he predicts that, if the bill makes it through the House of Representatives it will die in the Senate. "Passage in the House does not produce a law," Waxman said in a March 7 talk at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. "That's something I really learned last year and something the Republicans will learn soon enough."
Jean Chemnick reported in Greenwire on March 7 (subscription required):
If the Senate does approve the bill to stop EPA from regulating carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act, Waxman said he would expect President Obama to veto it, whether it comes attached to a federal appropriations bill or not. The Republican-controlled House approved a seven-month spending bill last month that would prevent EPA from using funds to craft and enforce its carbon rules for stationary sources through the end of this fiscal year.
"The administration has got to stand up to Republicans, and I can't believe they would accept any of these riders and cuts to EPA," Waxman said. "And they're going to have to fight this out."
Some analysts have said the president might accept a temporary stay on EPA's carbon rules in exchange for other Republican compromises or to avoid a government shutdown when current spending legislation expires later this month. But the White House has indicated the president would not sign such a bill, and Waxman made it clear he plans to hold Obama to that position. …
"I expect the administration to stand up and be counted. It's one of the key tenets by which the president said he wanted to become the leader of our country," Waxman added.