The Koch Energy and Commerce Committee

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee is paying off a debt. The debt is financial and campaign support from some of the nation’s worst polluters. The payoff is the “Energy Tax Prevention Act“, which, with an audacity that only Republicans seem to pull off, simply and blatantly redefines what constitutes an “air pollutant.”

You’ll be relived to learn that carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons are no longer pollutants. “The definition of the term ‘air pollutant’ in section 302(g) does not include [previously listed gasses]”. Poof! The EPA can no longer regulate these substances under Title III of the Clean Air Act.

Not to be outdone, potential Republican presidential nominee Newt Gingrich has called for the abolition of the EPA. Gingrich’s group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, is funded by top oil and coal interests.

The Koch Energy and Commerce Committee called a rogues’ gallery of polluters to testify:

  • Lion Oil, which ranks 27 on the list of top 100 facilities releasing chemicals such as nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and benzene into the environment.
  • U.S. Steel Corporation, which ranks 19th on the 2010 Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 Air Polluters list.
  • FMC Corp., which had to pay the largest civil penalty ever obtained under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for repeatedly violating the hazardous waste law at its phosphorus production facility in Pocatello, Idaho.
  • Nucor Corp., which is 24 on the 2010 Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 Air Polluters list.
  • Santee Cooper, the largest single mercury polluter in South Carolina.

The Koch brothers and their employees are the biggest oil and gas donors to lawmakers sitting on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. They contributed $279,500 to 22 of the committee’s 31 Republicans and $32,000 to five Democrats. Americans for Prosperity, a Koch front-group, spent over $200,000 on ads that benefitted five of the six GOP freshmen members on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Jonathan H. Adler, law professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, predicts that this bill “may be the sum-total of House Republicans’ climate policy.” That’s a pretty safe prediction.

During the hearing on the bill Scopes climate trial, top representatives from the scientific community “clearly explained how years of research involving thousands of scientists in dozens of fields of expertise have come to the ineluctable conclusion that fossil-fuel pollution is threatening humanity.” I hope someone asked these scientists how much money they contributed to the campaigns of members of the committee.

Rep. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, stood up for reason:

H/T: Center for American Progress, Brad JohnsonPharyngula.

40 thoughts on “The Koch Energy and Commerce Committee”

  1. “I’d like to buy the Kochs a world so they’d leave ours alone…”

  2. Dont listen to Geologist II, he is a moron. He came into work yesterday laughing about what he wrote.

    The Kochs arent sinking the earth and fraking isnt destroying the planet. They typically use sand and water and they also employ explosives to open up oil bearing strata.

    So dont worry, the Kochtopus isnt undermining the earths crust. But they do own a Holiday Inn.

  3. rafflaw 1, March 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I do think the Koch Brothers are trying to sink the Earth, because they probable will make out financially somehow!
    It’s Woosty, $$$$$ is only a part of the equation and trust me…if the earth actually sinks it won’t be the biggest part…

  4. Wootsy,
    I do think the Koch Brothers are trying to sink the Earth, because they probable will make out financially somehow!

  5. You really dont have a clue do you? Geologist II 1, March 14, 2011 at 7:42 am
    More than you may think…as Otteray Scribe said, state your proof. I doubt we disagree but spewing 1 liners that are full of vitriolic accusation will do nothing but turn most avg peeps right off of your POV. It will be seen as purely a political maneuver. And that, in this instance, is dangerous in my POV. I believe Fracting is an ugly dangerous and greedy way to do business. I do not think the Koch bros. are TRYING to sink the earth, but if sinking the earth is a consequence to what they do and they are forwarned, perhaps we can get a change of course….as you say, everything is connected…even the Kochs.

  6. raff, that is why it is a good investment to hire somebody like me to ‘splain what it all means. Heh!

  7. OS,
    Well said. Let’s see the evidence, although I will have to admit that it may get over my head in a hurry!

  8. Geologist II: Most of the people who hang out on a legal blog are either lawyers or are connected in some way to the legal system. I am trained as a scientist myself. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Instead of making claims, suggest you link to some authority. Ever hear of Daubert? The standard for proof is not “because I said so,” but the finding must be reproducible, documented and baseline data accounted for.

    I am familiar with the “butterfly” theory you mention, but even if it is true, how do you link it to proximate cause? And even if you manage that, is the finding statistically significant at the .05 level of confidence?

    Suggestion: just provide some links to reliable and valid data sources. No need to get cranky because somebody calls you on your claims.

  9. If each one of the Koch Brothers will huff each one of these gases to prove they are safe and they survive, then I don’t have a problem with it.

  10. Woosty is still a cat:

    he is? I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, he is an idiot.

    Why do you listen to him?

    I work as a geologist in the oil field. I have seen the land subsidence personally, have you?

    Everything is interconnected in this universe. The death of a butterfly is felt at the far reaches of our galaxy in some way.

    You really dont have a clue do you?

  11. Elaine,
    The scientific data from the earthquake will be one more piece of science that will be denied by the Koch Boys!

  12. From New York Times

    Japan is “wider than it was before,” said Ross Stein, a geophysicist at the United States Geological Survey.

    Meanwhile, NASA scientists calculated that the redistribution of mass by the earthquake might have shortened the day by a couple of millionths of a second and tilted the Earth’s axis slightly.

    Not all of Japan jumped 13 feet closer to the United States, said Kenneth W. Hudnut, a geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey. The shifts occurred mostly in the area closest to the epicenter, and stations farther away reported much less movement.

  13. you know Geologist II, Rush Limbaugh is spewing the same garbage….

  14. Geologist II 1, March 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    the Kochs are trying to sink the earth
    They are?

  15. rafflaw,

    The beauty of this new knowledge is based on the GPS technology. Who knows how many times earth quakes caused this kind of land-mass movement in the past … we may have suspected or been able to postulate such things in the past … now it can be proven and measured with exactitude. I tip my hat to the scientific community.

  16. Nuclear energy is dead now for sure. It will probably be replaced by natural gas.

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