“The fact that no one has really looked at the Clean Air Act in much of a comprehensive way since 1990″”they feel very strongly and we feel very strongly as members that we need to revisit the Clean Air Act….”
“The whole issue is not just jobs and the economy but how competitive we are in the global marketplace. This is a much broader issue than the health of the American people and lungs and emphysema; it’s how can we balance that in the global marketplace for jobs….”
Decidedly not on Whitfield’s agenda: research and development for clean energy and alternative technologies….
“I’m not a big fan of a lot of government dollars going into research and development for private enterprises … and you’re not going to see the House of Representatives, I’m certain, provide a lot of money for research and development for electric vehicles.”
That is the wisdom of Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), the “top energy lieutenant” of House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), in an extended interview with National Journal Daily, titled “Whitfield Wants a Long, Hard Look at Clean Air Act” (subs. req’d).
How anyone could think there is a post-partisan consensus for a massive increase in clean energy R&D remains a mystery (see “The Chamber of Commerce is so extreme they oppose research and development into renewable energy!“). Here’s more from Whitfield, who will be central in pushing the House GOP’s dirty air agenda:
In the coming weeks, as Upton turns his attention toward efforts to gut last year’s health care overhaul, look for Whitfield, who will chair the panel’s Energy and Power Subcommittee, to be at the forefront of a full-throated fight against a slew of major environmental rules and laws.
Whitfield, a climate-science skeptic from a coal state, is a veteran of the House Republican class of 1994. He was encouraged to run for office by his fellow Kentuckian, Mitch McConnell, now the Senate minority leader. Throughout his career, the oil, gas, coal, and utility industries have been among the top contributors to his campaign coffers.
Whitfield is preparing to launch a full-scale attack not just on the EPA’s new climate regulations, which kicked off January 2, but on the very foundations of the 40-year old Clean Air Act””a cornerstone of U.S. environmental law. He intends to frame the landmark law and the new climate rules as attacks on jobs and the economy. And he’s clear about his end goal: to bring that message to the national level, and inject it into the 2012 elections.
In an interview with National Journal Daily, Whitfield laid out his views, plans, and strategy for taking on the Obama administration and the tenets of a clean air law that dates back to the Nixon administration.
“Ever since I’ve been in Congress, various groups on the business side, those entities that are creating jobs out there, have felt that the Clean Air Act is really””that there are all sorts of presumptions in favor of the environmentalists. The fact that no one has really looked at the Clean Air Act in much of a comprehensive way since 1990″”they feel very strongly and we feel very strongly as members that we need to revisit the Clean Air Act,” he said.
The Clean Air Act, passed in 1970, was the first national law to control pollutants that endanger human health, such as lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury. It was amended in 1990 to control the acid-rain causing pollutants spewed by coal-fired power plants. In 2009, the EPA determined that the carbon dioxide emitted by power plants, tailpipes, factories, and thousands of other entities, contributing to global warming, is also a pollutant that endangers human health.
Of course, Whitfield is painfully unaware that by “2020 the benefits of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments will exceed the costs of compliance by a factor of 30 to 1” and that “For EPA regulations, benefits consistently exceed costs.”
Whitfield said that one of his specific targets in the clean air law is a tenet””cherished by environmentalists””called New Source Review. Under the law, new polluting entities, such as coal-fired power plants, oil refineries, or manufacturers, must receive a permit before building a polluting source. In order to receive the permit, they must show that they will use the best-available technology to reduce their pollution.
Whitfield said he expects to hammer home the idea that the clean air rules are hampering the economy.
“The whole issue is not just jobs and the economy but how competitive we are in the global marketplace. This is a much broader issue than the health of the American people and lungs and emphysema; it’s how can we balance that in the global marketplace for jobs.
Another issue that he sees as ripe for elevation to national debate: the rise of oil and gasoline prices””already projected to approach the record highs of 2008″”and the return of a “drill, baby, drill” push for offshore drilling.
Decidedly not on Whitfield’s agenda: research and development for clean energy and alternative technologies, such as electric vehicles or carbon capture and sequestration for coal plants.
“I’m not a big fan of a lot of government dollars going into research and development for private enterprises. There’s private research being done for carbon capture and sequestration”¦ and you’re not going to see the House of Representatives, I’m certain, provide a lot of money for research and development for electric vehicles.
“I don’t believe that the electric cars are going to play a major role in this for a while. They may be good for driving around in urban areas but they’re not at a place where people will drive them for long trips. We’re going to be looking at other ways to solve these problems. I think it’s going to be very difficult to reduce our consumption of oil.”
Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecy: If you block investments in R&D or electric cars or efficiency or alternative energy, then it will be very difficult to reduce oil consumption, which is something Republicans know intuitively (see Darrell Issa (R-CA) slams ‘failed’ GOP energy policy).