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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

Apr 6, 2011
Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon

Though he was one of the original authors of the Clean Air Act, Dingell was never a fan of tailpipe emissions rules. As committee chairman, he was vehemently opposed to upping fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, fearing it would drive his home state's chief industry into ruin.

This time around, however, Dingell and the are on the same page. Barbara Somson, the UAW's legislative director, also wrote to Congress expressing her union's lack of support for Upton's measure.

In her letter, Somson points out that UAW members fear such legislation could cause confusion and litigation over the question of whether the tailpipe emissions standard that EPA and the set for model years 2012-2016 would remain enforceable. She added that it could jeopardize EPA-NHTSA collaboration on a light-duty vehicle standard for model years 2017-2025.

"When announced, this national program was applauded by all participants," she wrote about cooperation on fuel efficiency from the union, the automotive industry and the conservation community. "We view this federal regulation as a 'win-win,' providing certainty to the auto industry, while leading to significant oil savings and a cleaner, healthier environment."

In addition, she wrote, combining this regulation with federal policies to back domestic manufacturing of advanced technology vehicles and their key components is leading to the creation of tens of thousands of auto sector jobs.

Where Upton's Bill Stands

While Upton's anti-EPA legislation will likely sail through the Republican-majority House this week, it faces stiff opposition in the more-staid Senate where 53 members caucus with the Democrats. And the White House has confirmed that President Obama's veto pen is at the ready.

Still, Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has introduced a companion bill in the upper chamber, is asking his colleagues to follow the House's lead by listening to a coalition of organizations such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Mining Association, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"Senators will soon face a fundamental choice," the Oklahoma Republican said in a statement. "Stand with farmers and manufacturers, and the jobs they want to create, or stand with EPA's cap-and-trade regulations, which threaten their futures and the economy's growth and expansion."

'Wildly Inaccurate Language'

A law with a history as exemplary as the Clean Air Act, Blumenauer said, deserves to be lauded instead of attacked on a partisan basis.

The nine-term Oregonian, who serves on both the House Budget and Ways and Means committees, accused the GOP of taking "the Frank Luntz approach to environmental policymaking."

That's a reference to the masterful message-twisting of the pollster and political consultant known for prodding the George W. Bush administration into fixating on a supposed lack of scientific certainty instead of encouraging the advance of climate change legislation.

Luntz, a regular on Fox News, is famous for pushing parts of the English language through a rabbit hole, where the estate tax becomes the death tax, school vouchers morph into opportunity scholarships and offshore oil drilling is transformed into deep-sea energy exploration.

"My suspicion, however, is that Republicans do not believe the EPA is going to impose an energy tax," Blumenauer said. "They have perfected the use of poll-tested but wildly inaccurate language to attack sound science and undermine confidence in the laws that keep us safe."

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