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Could Oregon Democrat's Amendment Trip Up Anti-EPA Legislation?

With his new amendment, Rep. Blumenauer aims to get Republicans to own up to an agenda of falsely casting EPA CO2 rules as an 'energy tax on America'

By Elizabeth McGowan, SolveClimate News

Apr 6, 2011
Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon

WASHINGTON—As the House preps for a vote as soon as today on what's touted as the "Energy Tax Prevention Act," an Oregon Democrat is intent on tripping up the GOP on what he labels a clear case of doublespeak.

Just how is Rep. Earl Blumenauer tweaking the Republicans?

Simply by asking them to strike the entire designed to halt the EPA in its regulatory tracks and replace it with an amendment to the Clean Air Act that would prevent Lisa Jackson or any agency administrator from imposing an energy tax.

"This amendment will help us find out whether Republicans are truly concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency imposing an energy tax on America," Blumenauer said about the suggestion he rolled out Tuesday. "I, too, am opposed to any attempts by the EPA to impose taxes, which is why I hope my Republican colleagues will join me in supporting this common-sense amendment."

The , chaired by Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton advanced the Energy Tax Prevention Act to the full House after approving it on a 34-19 vote March 15. Upton garnered support from Democrats such as Reps. Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.

The bill, decried by environmental advocates, unions and public health organizations, would permanently stop EPA from reining in emissions of heat-trapping gases from large stationary sources such as power plants and industrial facilities.

With Republicans in control of the House, Blumenauer's press secretary, Derek Schlickeisen, told SolveClimate News in a Tuesday evening interview that the amendment has little chance of advancing.

"Still, it is useful, we think, to offer a counter-narrative to some of this ridiculous language," Schlickeisen explained, adding that the American public shouldn't be fooled by the word "tax" in the bill's title. "We think it's very reasonable to put out what the facts of the case are."

Blumenauer Signs Waxman Letter, Too

In addition to promoting a pro-EPA statement with his amendment, Blumenauer is also among the supporting the agency's efforts that was circulated by California Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

"We write to urge you to support the Clean Air Act, which is one of America's great bipartisan pieces of legislation," the legislators wrote in addressed to Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. "We ask you to oppose efforts to undermine this landmark law. In particular, EPA has responsibility, pursuant to the Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, to take steps to curb carbon emissions using its current Clean Air Act authority."

"Indeed, EPA has already wisely used this authority to implement one national automobile standard to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce carbon emissions," the letter continues.

The letter credits the 1970 Clean Air Act with allowing the nation to unprecedented environmental and public health strides during a 40-plus year period when the economy has grown by more than 200 percent.

"Cleaner air, a healthier population, and a stronger economy go hand-in-hand," the letter concludes. "In addition to keeping workers on the job, cleaning up air pollution can create new jobs — in designing and manufacturing pollution controls, installing and operating new equipment, and building cleaner facilities."

Dingell, UAW Also on Board

One of the most notable names on the Waxman letter is that of Rep. John Dingell, the second House member to sign. The Michigan Democrat once referred to the prospect of regulating greenhouse gas emissions via the Clean Air Act as causing a "glorious mess." Dingell, the former chair of the energy committee, has served in Congress more than twice as long as Upton, his colleague from the Great Lake State.

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