Forward or Backward on Global Warming?

A year ago, the House of Representatives passed clean energy and climate legislation that would put America on the road towards the carbon pollution reductions we desperately need for our economic, environmental, and national security. 

On Thursday, in a House appropriations subcommittee, some members of Congress who still deny the reality of climate science and the urgency of action are expected to propose a funding “rider” that would block use of the Clean Air Act to start curbing that pollution.

We need Congress to move us forward, not backward.  We need to start solving global warming, and stop pretending it doesn’t exist. 

The last decade was the hottest decade on record.  The last 12 months were the hottest year on record.  Last June was the hottest June on record.  Worldwide. 

The one thing Congress must not do while it works on new legislation is to take away the laws we already have on the books to get started.  

When it wrote the Clean Air Act nearly four decades ago, Congress gave the Environmental Protection Agency the tools and the responsibility to protect the American people when science shows that new pollutants pose dangers to their health or environment.  The Supreme Court upheld this authority in its landmark 2007 global warming decision, Massachusetts v. EPA.  The Court ordered EPA to decide, based on the science, whether carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants endanger our health and welfare.  EPA made the endangerment determination in December 2009, after a painstaking and thorough scientific review. 

EPA has made real progress since then with consensus standards to cut the carbon pollution from cars and trucks.  Now it is time to make real progress on power plants, refineries, and other industries.

If the funding rider were to become law, it would effectively overturn the Supreme Court’s decision and block EPA from responding to the science.  It would prohibit the agency from using the Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from power plants or other industries. 

It should be called the Dirty Air Act.  The subcommittee must vote “no.”

Tomorrow it’s going to be 94° in Washington – not a record, but damn hot. 

Maybe the committee should meet outdoors. 

Update July 22:  The House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee rejected an amendment that would block EPA for two years from using the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and industrial sources.  The vote was 7-7:

For the amendment: Michael K. Simpson (R-ID), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH), Tom Cole (R-OK), Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), Ben Chandler (D-KY)

Against the amendment: James P. Moran (D-VA), Norman D. Dicks (D-WA), Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), John W. Olver (D-MA), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), David R. Obey (D-WI)

Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate, said that the Administration "will continue to use our existing tools to address these problems."