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Rep. Fred Upton in the Kalamazoo Gazette: Energy Tax Prevention Act won't weaken Clean Air Act


We continue to endure tough times here in southwest Michigan and across the country…. Unemployment remains high as gas prices hurtle toward $4 a gallon. And yet, despite our economic maladies, there are unelected bureaucrats in Washington furiously working on regulations that will not only circumvent Congress, but will send more manufacturing jobs overseas and increase costs at the pump.

During the last Congress, legislation was introduced to regulate greenhouse gases through a program known as cap-and-trade…. That effort failed as Democrats and Republicans alike recognized such a proposal would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, make America less competitive, and raise gas and energy costs for everyone — all without significant environmental benefit…. Such a policy would have been an economic dagger for struggling states like Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

Growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan, I have always favored common sense environmental policies, believing that we can create jobs and be good stewards of the environment at the same time…. I also believe that overreaching regulation is neither appropriate nor helpful.

With cap-and-trade derailed by bipartisan opposition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has changed course, now seeking to regulate greenhouse gas emissions by bureaucratic fiat…. To do so, the agency is attempting to grant itself new authority to impose greenhouse gas rules under the Clean Air Act, even though Congress rejected that intention.

Unless Congress intervenes, EPA’s efforts to impose a cap-and-trade agenda threaten to drive gas prices even higher, increase utility rates, send manufacturing jobs overseas, and hamstring our economic recovery. Any further constraints on our domestic energy capacity or self-imposed increases on the costs of production will drive prices at the pump even higher….

Studies have estimated that previous legislative efforts to cap greenhouse gas emissions would drive up gas prices 19 cents by 2015 and 95 cents in 2050. Because EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations are designed to achieve similar goals as cap-and-trade legislation, and because such regulations would directly impact domestic refineries and production, the regulations are similarly expected to drive up the price of gasoline. In fact, per EPA itself, it is highly likely that regulations will be even more costly than cap-and-trade legislation.

In an effort to protect jobs and keep energy prices from rising even higher, I recently joined leading House Democrats in introducing the Energy Tax Prevention Act…. This bipartisan legislation, which passed my committee 34-19, would prevent EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in an effort to address climate change, thereby upholding Congress’s original intent under the Clean Air Act while protecting jobs and keeping costs lower for households and employers….

Unfortunately, there are some who will support EPA’s regulations no matter how many jobs will be lost or how high gas and energy prices will go…. And they are distorting the facts to make their case….
The Energy Tax Prevention Act does allow states to continue setting climate policy as they see fit, but prevents those actions from being imposed nationally by unelected bureaucrats…. It does not weaken the Clean Air Act…. It does not limit EPA’s ability to monitor and reduce pollutants like lead and ozone that damage public health…. This legislation restores the Clean Air Act to its original purpose — protecting families from harmful smog, particulate matter and chemical pollution.

Over the years, we have witnessed the tremendous success of environmental policies like the Clean Air Act, which have contributed to the greater public health…. I have supported such laws and have stood up to the big polluters, both in Washington and here at home…. I remain focused on protecting our Great Lakes from invasive species like the Asian carp, and have worked to prevent companies from increasing hazardous discharges into our precious waters…. The Enbridge pipeline leak was a tragedy and you can be assured I will be using my chairmanship to reauthorize comprehensive pipeline safety legislation.

As we focus on creating jobs and revitalizing Michigan’s economy, we cannot afford to hand over the keys to recovery to an unchecked federal agency…. Our families and job creators deserve better.

Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, represents Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District and is Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Read the story online HERE.