-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.
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: