Rep. Palmer Stands Up to EPA Overreach

Rep. Gary Palmer has introduced legislation aimed at combatting the EPA’s aggressive and controversial regulation of greenhouse gasses. H.R. 3880, the Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2015, has already garnered significant Congressional support with 107 original cosponsors. Rep. Palmer’s bill is the latest in a series of Congressional attempts to fight the Obama Administration’s attempt at a federal takeover of the electrical grid.

Obama’s carbon regulation will require states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Energy bills will skyrocket from the ensuing loss of affordable and reliable electricity. While Obama’s carbon rule will hurt all Americans, it will especially affect minorities and the poor, who spend a higher percentage of their income on utility bills. The carbon rule could result in thousands of premature deaths because regulatory costs reduce people’s ability to protect their health by forcing people to spend money on complying with the regulation and less on things that protect their health. All of this pain will be for naught, as the regulation does nothing to impact the climate: using the EPA’s own climate model, the rule would produce a mere 0.02 degrees Celsius change in global temperatures.

Further, the carbon rule amounts to a federal takeover of the electricity grid. Under the current system, states are in charge of regulating electricity markets. They choose what mix of electricity generation works best for their unique situation, and respond to market factors when producing electricity. Thus, Americans enjoy some of the most affordable and reliable electricity in the developed world. Obama’s carbon rule will undermine the electrical system that Americans have come to enjoy and depend on for affordable, reliable power. As the 24 states that sued EPA explained (26 states counting those that filed separate suits), the regulation “unlawfully expands the federal government’s regulatory power over electricity production and consumption in nearly every State.” Attempting to take over the electric grid under the auspices of greenhouse gas regulations is an affront to state sovereignty and the Constitution.

While the courts have determined that EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, there is considerable debate regarding whether that was ever the intent of Congress. In fact, former Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Congressman John Dingell (who helped write the Clean Air Act) said that “the Supreme Court came up with an erroneous decision on whether the Clean Air Act covers greenhouse gases. Like many of the members of this committee I was present when we wrote that legislation, and we thought it was clear enough that…we didn’t clarify it, thinking that even the Supreme Court was not stupid enough to make that finding.”

Citing the EPA’s lack of explicit statutory authority to regulate greenhouse gases, Rep. Palmer’s bill confronts Obama’s carbon regulations head on. The bill explicitly looks to nullify both the EPA’s proposed carbon rules for new sources and for existing sources, both of which will have enormous negative impacts for all Americans. Additionally, Rep. Palmer prescribes limitations on future rules promulgated by the EPA, requiring the EPA to consider any impacts their rules will have on employment. If the rule has a negative impact on jobs it cannot be implemented, unless approved by Congress and the President.

Rep. Palmer’s bill also seeks to prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Under current law, the EPA has virtually unfettered authority in determining what exactly constitutes an ‘air pollutant,’ and thus can be regulated by the EPA. Rep. Palmer’s bill includes language that tightens the EPA’s authority by excluding carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases, from being considered air pollutants and thus not subject to EPA regulation. This will help rein in the EPA from its continued abuse of power, and protect Americans from further job-killing and costly rule-making.

Rep. Palmer has taken a strong stand against the EPA and its abusive regulatory agenda by introducing H.R. 3880. The strong support behind this bill sends a strong message that the U.S. Congress is not supportive of Obama’s climate agenda and will not capitulate to the Administration’s demands leading up to and resulting from the Paris climate talks.

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