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March 31, 2011

Energy Policy

[Page: S1950]  GPO's PDF 

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Mr. BARRASSO. Madam President, I rise this morning to talk about jobs, the economy, and our Nation's energy.

In a few minutes the President will be speaking at Georgetown University about energy. I rise today to talk about the President's Environmental Protection Agency and his efforts to regulate our global climate by taxing, by using a backdoor method called cap and tax, a proposal that we will be debating here in the Senate and are debating today.

Folks back home recall the debate about cap and tax. It happened over the last few years. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency is trying do it through a backdoor method. Attempts to pass this massive energy tax on to the hard-working families all across the country have failed. It failed in Congress, and it failed because the American public has said we do not want new energy taxes.

[Page: S1951]  GPO's PDF

Americans don't want to pay more for gasoline at the pump. Yet they are experiencing it every day. I saw it this past weekend in Wyoming. Week after week the price at the pump goes up. American families don't want to pay more for electricity to heat their homes and run their small businesses. Yet the President's Environmental Protection Agency is attempting to bypass this Congress and enact their own cap-and-tax policy through regulation.

Cap and tax is unacceptable to the American people. It was unacceptable 3 years ago, it was unacceptable 2 years ago, it was unacceptable last year, and it is still unacceptable today.

The EPA may think they know better than the American people. That is why this EPA must be stopped. There are different ways to stop the EPA's ongoing regulations. We have three proposals before us today, but only one is a solution. Of the other amendments, one is a surrender and another is a distraction. The McConnell-Inhofe amendment, the one I support, is an amendment that will block the EPA's attempt to enact the same cap-and-tax bill that has been defeated time and time again on Capitol Hill. That is the solution I will talk about shortly.

However, I wish to talk about the amendments I have concern with. One is the Baucus amendment. I do not support the Baucus amendment. To me, it is an attempt to surrender in the face of the EPA's dramatic regulatory overreach. It is the so-called ``agriculture exemption.''

When I talk to people in agriculture--the so-called agricultural exemption doesn't shield agricultural producers from increased fuel, increased energy, and increased fertilizer costs.

The factories, refineries, and powerplants that are the glue that holds the farming industry together and allows it to function will be hit with significant energy taxes under the Baucus amendment.

The aftershock will be felt by American small businesses and farmers across the West and the Midwest.

Farmers and small businesses will face higher electricity costs, higher gasoline costs, higher diesel costs, and higher fertilizer costs.

Everything from driving a tractor to shipping your produce to market will skyrocket.

Farms will close, and the cost of produce at the local grocery store will go up for all Americans.

We are not just seeing pain at the pump; people are paying more for gas, but they are also paying more for groceries these days. This will make that worse.

If you have any doubt about the impact the Baucus amendment will have on farms, talk to the American Farm Bureau because they oppose this amendment.

Another amendment dealing with the EPA is the Rockefeller amendment. It calls for a partial delay of EPA regulations for 2 years. This is not a delay, it is a distraction. The question is, does it truly delay the regulation of greenhouse gases? Not really. A couple are delayed--two of six--but four greenhouse gases are not. If that sounds like only a partial delay, you are correct, it is only partial.

Does the Rockefeller amendment put in safeguards to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency abides by the 2-year partial delay? No, it doesn't. The Rockefeller amendment does nothing to stop the EPA from stalling construction permits during the 2 years.

The Rockefeller amendment does nothing to prevent EPA from retroactively requiring costly mandates on small businesses, powerplants, and manufacturing facilities. It also does not prevent climate change nuisance suits, which are filed in court by groups opposed to fossil fuel development.

It seems to me the Rockefeller amendment only delays job growth, while giving a green light to EPA to proceed with regulations that will be costly to American families and to our American economy.

For those of us looking to protect jobs across the country and restore Congress's authority to determine our own energy future, this type of amendment can only be described as a partial delay. It is a distraction.

We don't need a surrender or a distraction; what we need is a solution.

The solution is the McConnell-Inhofe amendment. This amendment restores the Clean Air Act to its true meaning and congressional intent. Let me get back to that. This amendment restores the Clean Air Act to its true meaning and congressional intent.

The McConnell-Inhofe amendment blocks EPA's attempt to enact cap and tax. They are trying to do it in a backdoor route with cap and tax. But the McConnell amendment blocks EPA's attempt to enact cap and tax by blocking EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, by repealing the EPA's endangerment finding that says carbon dioxide is a threat to public health, by repealing the tailoring rule that says EPA can arbitrarily pick and choose which businesses they want to target, and also by applying it immediately to all greenhouse gases.

This is the amendment we must pass to rein in EPA and to protect jobs. This is the amendment that has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the American Farm Bureau, and Americans for Prosperity. The list of supporters of this amendment is extensive.

We need to get serious about America's energy future. Congress needs the time to get this policy right. We need to make America's energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, and do it without raising energy prices or hurting American families and jobs.

The McConnell-Inhofe amendment is the right solution.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

(Senate - March 30, 2011)

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