There's a relatively new front in the war against elephantine government and the Obama administration's socialist dreams. It's called The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, and it's gotten less attention than it deserves, even in the conservative press.
If it becomes law, the bill, which the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved 34-19 on Tuesday, would prohibit the federal Environmental Protection Agency from forcing a carbon cap and trade system on an unwilling nation, something the EPA has already begun doing. The bill, with majority support in the House, will likely be approved by that body later in the spring. Its prospects of making it to the floor in the Democratic-controlled Senate are less certain.
Cap and trade is the Soviet-style system whereby decisions on energy use throughout the economy are taken from the private sector, where they've rightly always been, and turned over to politicians and bureaucrats. In every contest to name the quickest way to make a Third World country out of the U.S., this scam has come in first. The cover for this audacious leftist putsch is that we need the government to parcel out permission to use fossil fuels in order to save us from manmade global warming and its attendant horrors (which, news out of Japan has demonstrated once again, are trifling compared to what Mother Nature can dish out without any help from us).
Over the past two years an increasing number of Americans have figured out that global warming, along with the left's favorite nostrum to head it off, cap and trade, are frauds of such audacious dimensions as to make the Piltdown hoax look like a fraternity prank by comparison. They've also figured out that cap and trade would severely limit the availability of energy and drive the price of everything up, the last things an economy struggling to recover needs. (Rather than burden the economy with cap and trade, why not just shoot it in the back of the head? This would be slightly quicker, more humane, and accomplish the same thing.)
This is why while a cap and trade bill was approved in the U.S. House in 2009 with room to spare, a companion bill never made it to the floor of the Senate in '09 or 2010. Americans were catching on.
Undeterred by the prospect of $4 a gallon gasoline in the near term, and unambiguous evidence that the American people don't want cap and trade any more than they wanted Obamacare when that was rammed through, Obama and his EPA have already started implementing rules which, if they are allowed to metastasize nationally, would essentially put government apparatchiks in charge of the American economy.
So far about a dozen states have sued the federals to block enforcement of these destructive rules. One state, Texas, has told the EPA to bugger off. They won't cooperate with enforcement. Comes now the "Energy Tax Prevention Act," which would permanently strip the EPA of the power and funds to enforce cap and trade.
The bill in no way alters the Clean Air Act, which would still oblige the EPA to regulate real air pollutants such as lead, ozone, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. But greenhouse gases would be stricken from the list of pollutants as there is no convincing evidence that they are, well, pollutants.
The Senate bill, authored by James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), has 42 co-sponsors, including one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia. But this is a party-line business, with Democrats, the party of government, nearly solidly in favor of the nation's economy being run from Washington.
Matt Dempsey, communications director of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, concedes it will be tricky to get this matter to the Senate floor with Democrats controlling the calendar, but said, "We will look at every opportunity to bring this bill to the Senate floor," including perhaps attaching this bill as an amendment to other legislation.
"We're working across the aisle," Dempsey told me. "We're hoping that passage in the House will create some momentum in the Senate. With gasoline prices on the rise, there's some sentiment now, even among Democrats, to slow the EPA down."
One of the Senate co-sponsors is rookie Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio. "At a time when Florida families and businesses are already struggling with high unemployment and slow economic growth, the last thing we need is unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington imposing an energy tax through regulation that would increase electricity and gasoline prices," Rubio said. "This bill not only protects Florida's families but will also eliminate some of the uncertainty preventing job creators from expanding their businesses and employing more people."
GOP spokesman Charlotte Baker says members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce have been hearing the same sentiments from their constituents. "There's has been a lot of backlash to what the EPA is attempting," she said.
Keep an eye on this one. It's central to the power struggle going on now that will determine how many of America's freedoms survive the current administration, devoted as it is to command and control.