June 10, 2010

EPA OVERREACH

By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

Last summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey "cap and trade" legislation. The Senate has attempted to pass similar legislation, but the American people are wise to the act. They have pushed back to let their elected representatives know that they oppose a massive energy tax that will send more jobs overseas and significantly undermine our global competitiveness. Unfortunately, though, instead of signaling that they hear the American people loud and clear, the Obama Administration is planning to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA). This is like trying to jam a square peg into a round hole, and it will have very serious adverse effects on our economy.

In late January, I joined 41 Republican and Democratic Senators by introducing a resolution to essentially stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing much of the cap and trade proposal on the American people without Congressional authorization. I co-sponsored this resolution because this effort to use the EPA to impose a cap and trade-like mandate is nothing more than an end run around Congress, where the decision should be made. The CAA was not intended to function as a regulatory system for America's greenhouse gas emissions. Despite all this, though, and despite strong opposition to this form of regulation across America, including from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, the resolution failed to pass the Senate.

The threat of EPA regulations started out as just that---a threat. The Administration was trying to force Congress into passing climate legislation, hoping that Congress would cave in. It knew what the economic implications of these regulations would be. For example, an internal memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget stated that "making the decision to regulate CO2 under the CAA for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities." Nevertheless, faced with a lack of support by the public, who has a strong resistance to the ever-increasing size and scope of the federal government, the Administration has chosen to unleash a regulatory monster that will hurt businesses all across our country.

This country is not yet recovered from the largest economic contraction since the Great Depression. Unemployment is still at record highs and people continue to struggle. Yet the Administration and its allies in Congress simply do not seem to get it. Instead of getting back to the basics and focusing on jobs, we are spending trillions of dollars that we do not have on bailouts, so-called "stimulus" bills, and growing government programs that we simply cannot afford. The American people have made it crystal clear that they want us to get our fiscal house in order, and we ought to listen to them. Our economic future depends on it.

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