Yesterday, the Energy and Power Subcommittee passed the highly anticipated, much debated Energy Tax Prevention Act, legislation which returns the obligation of setting America’s climate policy to Congress from the Environmental Protection Agency. Yesterday’s vote is the culmination of two years of doggedness by Republicans who have been fighting an uphill battle against well-funded Democrats, environmentalists, and unions.
More substantively, the Energy Tax Prevention Act prohibits the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. Since losing the Cap-and-Trade debate, Democrats have relied on the EPA to impose their preferred energy policy on the country. The impetus behind Cap-and-Trade was to force Americans to move towards less efficient, more expensive sources of energy. Likewise, the EPA is attempting to achieve this end through the regulation of greenhouse gases.
The Republican message that resonated so well in the fall of 2010 is still ringing true—it is Congress’ job to determine this country’s energy and climate policy, not the EPA’s. While a majority of Americans certainly would prefer to have their elected official dictating policy over federal bureaucrats, they also want a job to wake for everyday. The EPA’s regulations would have exacerbated our frustratingly high unemployment rate and unnecessarily inflated Americans’ utility and gasoline bills. In what would amount to a deathblow for America’s manufacturers and many of its coal producers, it is hard to exaggerate how destructive the EPA’s regulations would be—literally hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost over the coming years.
If the Energy Tax Prevention Act is not signed into law, oil, natural gas and coal refiners will have to invest tens of millions of dollars arbitrarily upgrading facilities. Energy producers that cannot afford these upgrades will be forced to close their doors. These regulations effectively choke off the supply of energy, thereby, increasing its price. America’s manufacturers, who are hanging on by a thread due to onerous federal regulations and increased competition abroad, would be forced to ship jobs overseas. New energy companies looking to meet the country’s energy demands will have to apply for permits from the EPA—a process no one, not even the EPA, thinks the agency has the capacity to handle.
Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla) should be applauded for their job creating legislation. Expected to pass out of the Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday and the House soon thereafter, the real fight will be in the Senate. Senator Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has proposed a toothless EPA bill in an attempt to scuttle the Energy Tax Prevention Act and give Democrats cover in 2012. This will not work, their secret is out.
Yesterday’s vote shows how far we have come in the past two years. Americans are looking for jobs, economic growth, and lower energy bills—not a backdoor Cap-and-Trade scheme from the EPA.