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House Seeks to Gag, Handcuff, and Eliminate Action on Climate Change
Last week, the House of Representatives completed work on a bill known as a H.R. 1, a Continuing Resolution (CR) designed to make sure the U.S. government stays open for business for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. Instead of focusing on spending, however, the House engaged in a polluter feeding frenzy designed to gut and filet any semblance of action to address climate change and to update our air pollution standards.
As a first taste, the CR bill introduced early last week contained a broad base provision attacking the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit carbon pollution as currently required by the Clean Air Act and a Supreme Court order. The bill includes the following provision:
SEC. 1746. None of the funds made available to the Environmental Protection Agency by this division or any other Act may be expended for purposes of enforcing or promulgating any regulation (other than with respect to section 202 of the Clean Air Act) or order, taking action relating to, or denying approval of state implementation plans or permits because of the emissions of greenhouse gases due to concerns regarding possible climate change.
Make no mistake, this provision does not try to address any budgetary issue or shrink government spending. Instead, it is directly seeking to prevent the federal government’s ability to limit the carbon pollution belching unchecked from our nation’s coal fired power plants, oil refineries, and industrial smokestacks. The attack comes just as the EPA is starting to set pollution limits for these sources and, if enacted, it would even shutdown public listening sessions designed to get input from the public and businesses on how best to design new standards that reduce air pollution and continue American innovation in pollution control technology. (Read my discussion of these new efforts here)
But wait there is a lot more! Section 1746 was simply chum designed to spur a complete attack through a number of amendments to the base bill. After introduction, the House spent all of last week amending the bill in an attempt to erase the issue of climate change from existence. Here is a summary of the climate attack:
First, See No Pollution. Rep. Pompeo (R-KS) sponsored Amendment #84 to cut $8.5M from the EPA’s Program and Management budget. The Congressman made clear that the cut was intended to eliminate funding for EPA’s greenhouse gas registry that is used to track how much carbon pollution is streaming out of each of our power plants, refineries, and smokestacks. If we don’t know where the carbon pollution is coming from then we can’t set standards to reduce it.
Second, See No Harm. Two amendments make sure that the government is limited in its ability to engage in scientific efforts to study the impacts and consequences of our unlimited carbon pollution.
- Rep. Luetkemeyer (R-MO) sponsored Amendment #149 which would prohibit the U.S. from contributing to the funding of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC was launched by President George H.W. Bush and recognized by the U.S. Senate as the world’s leading body for the advancement of our scientific understanding on how global warming pollution is contributing to the planet’s increasingly chaotic climate.
- Rep Hall (R-TX), Chairman of the House Science Committee, sponsored Amendment #495 that would limit the government’s ability to communicate the latest climate science by prohibiting creation of the NOAA National Climate Service. The new NOAA National Climate Service will, for the first time, bring together all the climate data, analysis, and modeling resources that NOAA already supports into a single organizational structure. This will make it much easier for all sorts of constituencies — from farmers and fishery managers to water and transportation managers — to access much needed climate information to make better decisions about investments for the next season or the long term.
If we don’t look at the science discussing and documenting the severe public health and wildlife impacts caused by unlimited carbon pollution then the problem of climate change must not exist.
Third, See No Action. Just in case the aforementioned Section 1746 does not do the job, the House also passed two amendments designed to make extra sure the country takes no action to reduce our growing carbon pollution problem.
- Rep. Poe (R-Texas) sponsored Amendment #466 that would bar EPA from beginning to limit carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions from refineries and other major sources. The amendment states that: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Environmental Protection Agency to implement, administer, or enforce any statutory or regulatory requirement pertaining to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, or perfluorocarbons from stationary sources that is issued or becomes applicable or effective after January 1, 2011.”
Amendment Passed 249-177. Click here to see what members voted to handcuff EPA. What is the damage? Click here to view a list of some of the EPA’s actions to limit carbon pollution that would be wiped out.
- Rep. Scalise (R-LA) sponsored Amendment #204 that would eliminate funding for the position of the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change. The Special Envoy works for the Secretary of State and is responsible for negotiating with other countries to make sure there is a global solution to tackling climate change in a way that reduces all countries’ carbon pollution and protects American interests in such negotiations.
Amendment Passed 249-179. Click here to see what members voted to eliminate the Special Envoy.
Of course, this is the grand finale. If we don’t know where the carbon pollution is coming from and we don’t study the impacts of climate change then we must not need to act domestically or internationally.
In the early morning hours of February 19th the final bill containing all of these amendments was passed by the House on a vote of 235-189, largely along party lines. No Democrats supported the bill and only 3 Republicans voted against it. Click here to see how members voted on the final bill.
And I’m sorry to say that this climate attack is just part of the story. To read about the full slate of polluter attacks on our clean air, clean water and wildlife contained in the whole bill read my colleague Jeremy Symons’ blog here.