Deep In Denial, Smokey Joe Barton Unleashes Dirty Energy Plan

Our guest blogger is Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

Joe BartonRep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today unveiled a cynical Republican alternative to the clean energy jobs legislation being developed by committee Democrats. Barton is arguing that his legislation is a “viable alternative to a mandatory cap and trade plan” that sets economy-wide standards for global warming pollution.

In reality, it’s hardly a viable alternative — only something that can be presented as one. This is basically a PR stunt aimed at conning the public to stay stuck in the same dirty energy rut that is destroying our economy and environment.

The Barton plan summary I’ve reviewed includes such choice items as:

— Repealing the Supreme Court decision which said the US EPA could limit greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

— Preempting state authority to reduce climate-related emissions. This is a direct attack on California and other states that have sought to avert the threat of catastrophic global warming and create green jobs.

— Providing regulatory and financial rewards to coal-burning power plants that use “currently available technology.” In other words, more dirty coal-fired plants that kill and sicken our children and grandparents.

— Providing new subsidies for hazardous nuclear power plants.

— Defines nuclear power and advanced coal technology as “renewable.”

— Repealing “decoupling” mandates that reward utilities for reducing wasted energy.

— Promoting more oil drilling off the coasts and Luntzian “environmentally sensitive American energy exploration” in the Arctic wildlife refuge.

— Subsidizing climate-killer fuels produced from coal, oil shale, methane hydrates, and tar sands.

While not quite ignoring the threat of climate change, Barton’s bill does spit in the face of science. The bill includes a provision that establishes emissions performance standards for new coal plants — but “all existing generating facilities are grandfathered.” Unsurprisingly, Barton’s proposed standards are laughably weak, onlying require coal plants to be as efficient as less-polluting natural gas plants by 2030. This proposal, combined with the incentives for new drilling, the reversal of fuel economy standards, and promotion of highly polluting alternative fuels, would guarantee that U.S. emissions would continue to increase without bound for the foreseeable future.

Barton is just blowing smoke: new subsidies for oil, coal, and nuclear, rollbacks of environmental standards, Orwellian language, and denial of the science of climate change. Wasn’t eight years of planetary and economic destruction enough?

Download the summary of the Barton dirty energy plan.


Joe Mendelson, director of global warming policy for the National Wildlife Federation, responds:

Rep. Barton, who’s received millions in campaign contributions from electric utilities and the oil and gas industries in recent years, has introduced a bill that’s nothing short of bailout for big polluters. We don’t need more fat paychecks for oil executives – we need clean energy jobs for Main Street. Americans don’t want a return to failed Dick Cheney-style energy policies. They want a new direction — one that repowers America’s economy with millions of clean energy jobs, breaks our dependence on oil and reduces the carbon pollution that causes global warming.

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