Speaking before a gathering of coal-powered executives, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) announced Tuesday that he, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) were introducing yet another piece of legislation to roll back Clean Air Act action on global warming pollution. Skelton’s Dirty Air Act comes on the heels of similar legislation by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND). At the Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative State Legislative Conference, Skelton argued that because Congressional action on climate has “stalled” in the Senate, he “cannot tolerate turning over the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to unelected bureaucrats” at the Environmental Protection Agency:
Simply put, we cannot tolerate turning over the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to unelected bureaucrats at EPA. America’s energy and environmental policies should be set by Congress. It appears the clean energy bill moving through Congress is stalled. Let us set that bill aside and pass this scaled-back energy legislation. This bill, which represents a responsible way to move forward on energy legislation, gets the EPA under control, provides good things for American farmers, and builds upon bipartisan objectives that will help curb climate change and make our nation more energy independent.
The attacks on “unelected bureaucrats” are nonsense — the mandate to declare global warming emissions air pollutants came from the U.S. Supreme Court, the finding that global warming threatens the health and welfare of Americans came from independent scientists, and the plans for action have been approved by the Senate-confirmed EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and the duly-elected President of the United States, Barack Obama.
Critically, Skelton’s legislation would forbid defining any greenhouse gas as an “air pollutant” on the “basis of its effect on global climate change,” and prevent the consideration of the effect of ethanol production on land use.
Just as the coal industry has been warring against the science of global warming, the corn ethanol industry has been attacking the science of indirect land use change, which finds that a massive increase in biofuel production can cause farmers around the world to change how they plant crops and encourages the destruction of forests — leading to increased global warming pollution. These secondary effects can lessen or swamp out the global warming benefits of switching from fossil fuels to biofuels. Climate denier Peterson, who inserted pro-ethanol language in the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act for the agriculture industry last year in exchange for his vote, has announced he won’t support climate legislation again if it came up for a new vote. Amidst this political morass, the EPA this week incorporated land use effects into its biofuels mandate.
Skelton’s crusade against reality is putting his constituents at deadly risk. Skelton is ignoring the recent series of deadly floods, catastrophic ice storms, killer tornadoes, dangerous heat waves, and drought that have harmed the fourth congressional district of Missouri — all of which will worsen if global warming isn’t held back.
The rural electric cooperatives, though nominally publicly owned, are part of a nationwide network of climate-denying coal-powered companies, who are fighting climate legislation, even though it would lower their customers’ bills and stabilize energy prices. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is a top donor to Skelton, giving him $57,100. Peterson’s top donors include coal-powered American Crystal Sugar, at $84,585 among the $1,745,973 Peterson has received from agribusiness.