Invoking a Nazi reference today, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) argued that establishing national energy efficiency standards for buildings would create a “global warming Gestapo.” Scalise attacked the provision in the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454) to create a federal building efficiency code (Section 201), calling it “ludicrous”:
Let’s go to the bill and look at the penalties. Because there are actually civil penalties in this bill. We’re actually creating a global warming police. . . And then further to page 236: “Each day of unlawful occupancy shall be considered a separate violation.” We’re setting up a global warming Gestapo that can literally come in and now this new term, “unlawful occupancy.” Now living in your home is considered unlawful under this bill.
This is ludicrous.
Putting aside Scalise’s inflammatory rhetoric, his understanding of the provision — which would save working families and businesses millions of dollars, create hundreds of thousands of green jobs, and tackle the nation’s biggest source of global warming pollution — is flawed. Scalise ignored the difference between energy efficiency building codes and safety codes. Scalise was also seemly ignorant that the legislation explicitly preserves local building codes that meet or exceed the national standard, while providing federal support for states to implement new standards. Federal enforcement would only take place if states failed to act.
Without irony, Scalise argued that fighting global warming would threaten the health and safety of Lousianans in danger of “hurricanes and flooding” and tornadoes:
Safety and health have always been the main driving factors behind a building code. What this bill does in Section 201, it’s literally taking global warming, and using global warming to trump safety and health. Because now, if I’m in South Louisiana, and I want to rebuild after hurricane damage — which by the way we had 120,000 homes in Louisiana that had more than 50 percent damage due to Hurricane Katrina — under this bill in section 201, when people are rebuilding those 120,000 homes, they would have to follow the federal building code, and in many cases that would mean they can’t use the same types of strength that they might want to use in their windows. They might want to use stronger windows because they don’t want the storm to blow out their windows. But under this bill, a federal standard could say their windows are out of the federal code.
Global warming likely significantly intensified the devastating power of Hurricane Katrina. As the state of Louisana itself has explained, “Coastal Lousiana is more vulnerable to the effects of global climate change than any other region in the United States. Its low elevation, high rate of subsidence and rapid loss of wetlands expose this area to the worst consequences of climatic change — a rising Gulf, possibly stronger storms, unpredictable rainfall and warmer weather.”
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