Energy Tax Prevention Act

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Energy Tax Prevention Act, also known as H.R. 910, is a bill sponsored by Representative Fred Upton, a Republican representing Michigan’s 6th District. It was introduced on March 3, 2011, and reported by committee on March 15. On April 7, 2011 the bill passed the House by a vote of 255 to 172. The next day it was received by the Senate and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

If passed, the bill would have changed several core components of the Clean Air Act.[1] The bill died with the ending of the two-year Congressional session, in January 2013.

Changes[edit]

If passed, this bill would amend several core components of the Clean Air Act (CAA). Title III of the CAA would be amended to have the term “greenhouse gas” include: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and any other substance subject to, or proposed to be subject to, regulation, action, or consideration under this Act to address climate change.[2]

The act goes on to state that the Administrator of the EPA may take no action involving the consideration of Greenhouse gases as pollutants or contributing factors to climate change. It also states that, “[nothing] shall cause a greenhouse gas to be subject to part C of title I …or considered an air pollutant for purposes of title V...”[2] This means that, as greenhouse gases would no longer be considered to degrade the quality of air, sources would not be required to ascertain a permit to emit. These permits require sources of pollution to complete a registration process in order to lawfully be able to emit anything considered to be a pollutant. Going along with this, it would no longer be required to report emissions of greenhouse gases.[2]" The Energy Tax Prevention act of 2011 also lists a number of prior agency actions that would be, "...repealed and shall have no legal effect.".[2]" Essentially this Act would reverse the decision rendered in Massachusetts, et al., v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al..

Reasoning[edit]

April 6, 2011, Rep. Upton summarized his intentions for introducing this bill when he told the Chairman of the House when he stated, "…at the end of the day, the EPA climate regime is all economic pain and no environmental gain. It will cause severe economic harm and promote no environmental good. This extreme regulatory agenda must be stopped in its tracks –and that’s exactly what H.R. 910 would do."[3]

Debate[edit]

On March 30, 2011, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that, “estimates that enacting this legislation would save $57 million in 2012 and about $250 million over the 2012-2016 period, assuming that appropriations in those years were reduced accordingly.”[4] This savings is calculated by taking into consideration the amount of money spent by the EPA in its effort to regulate GHG emissions. However, “Republicans on the committee's Energy and Power Subcommittee argued that trying to limit carbon emissions would cost US businesses $300-400 billion/year and discourage hiring of new employees.”[5]

In response to this, Lisa P. Jackson, the acting Administrator for the EPA, argued that the EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act has stimulated the US environmental technologies industry has led to an increase in revenue. "In 2008, that industry generated nearly $300 billion in revenue and $44 billion in exports.”[5] She continued on saying, “Yesterday, the University of Massachusetts and Ceres released an analysis finding that two of the updated CAA standards EPA is preparing to establish … will create nearly 1.5 million jobs over the next 5 years."[5] She also brought attention to the effects that the CAA has on society by stating, "in 2010 alone, EPA's implementation of the CAA saved more than 160,000 US lives, avoided more than 100,000 hospital visits; prevented millions of cases of respiratory illness, including bronchitis and asthma; enhanced US productivity by preventing millions of lost workdays; and kept US children healthy and in school."[5] Supplementing this, on March 1, 2011, the EPA released a report that estimated, “…the direct benefits from the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments are estimated to reach almost $2 trillion for the year 2020, a figure that dwarfs the direct costs of implementation ($65 billion).”[6] The saving reported here are mainly due to the estimated reduction of early deaths caused by pollution. These findings are based upon already observed trends.

It is almost certain that the debate will continue. Also, President Obama has said he will veto any bill that hobbles the EPA.[7]

References[edit]