Thompson Votes to Pass Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson has voted to support H.R 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, a bill to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from acting beyond its authority granted by Congress.  H.R. 910 passed the full House today by a vote of 255-172.

“Despite cap-and-trade legislation failing to gain Congressional approval when the White House had control of all three branches of government, the Administration has moved forward by executive fiat – and without the approval of Congress – in an attempt to advance the same policies the American people rejected one year ago,” said Thompson.

The Clean Air Act was enacted in 1970 and under the law the EPA has the authority to regulate hundreds of pollutants like particulates, ozone, and lead.  Congress never intended for the law to be used to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), which are not considered a pollutant as defined by law.  Congress explicitly rejected attempts to add GHG regulations during the 1990 Clean Air Amendments Act and, during the 111th Congress, rejected similar provisions during the so-called cap-and-trade legislation. 

The EPA’s ability and obligation to regulate pollutants expressly identified in the Clean Air Act are not impacted by H.R. 910, which only affects the EPA’s new push to regulate GHG.  H.R. 910 specifies that an “air pollutant” does not include a GHG, but the definition may include GHG for the purpose of addressing other environmental protections afforded under the law. 

“If Congress wants to continue to abdicate their constitutional authority to unelected officials in the bureaucracy, we might as well just declare this President and all thereafter “king”, shut down shop, and call it a day,” said Thompson. “These policies are beyond the legal boundaries of the Administration and would have significant and negative impacts upon small businesses. Even former Governor Rendell’s Public Utility Commission conceded similar policies would cost Pennsylvania 66,000 jobs.”

Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) under Governor Ed Rendell vehemently opposed Congress’ effort to implement cap-and-trade legislation in 2009, which Thompson opposed during the 111th Congress.  In addition to job losses, the PUC letter referenced by Thompson states that electrical rates in Pennsylvania would “necessarily skyrocket” because 58% of the Commonwealth’s electricity is generated by coal. 

Republicans and Democrats have voiced opposition to the EPA’s overreach and failure to adequately evaluate the economic impact of its actions on the nation’s economy.  Just yesterday, the White House’s own Small Business Administration stated the following: “In four years of regulatory activity, EPA has not evaluated the economic effects that its initial endangerment finding and mobile source emissions standards have had on small businesses.”

Despite the EPA’s unlawful overreach, the agency has received a 32% budget increase over the last two years.  Considering this increase and billions in additional stimulus funds, Thompson recently voted to support spending reductions for the agency under H.R. 1, Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011.  Amendments to H.R. 1 were adopted to block the EPA from using federal funds to act beyond the scope of existing law. Like H.R. 910, these amendments in no way impact the EPA’s ability to regulate and mitigate air pollutants.

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