A day before Christmas Eve, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) quietly announced plans to implement new regulations that would have the same impact as the job-killing cap-and-trade policy that Congress rejected last year. Implementation of these regulations would have devastating economic consequences and could jeopardize American jobs as our nation faces 9.4 percent unemployment. This is the wrong policy at the worst time, and I plan to fight against overbearing regulations that stifle and slow our economic recovery.
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On December 29, 2010, in reaction to the EPA plans targeting refineries, I sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging her to forgo the agency’s plans to regulate refinery greenhouse gases. These regulations will drive up the cost of energy in America – and everyone will pay. Americans, who are today facing significantly higher gas prices than last year, will be hit even harder with steep energy costs. Businesses will also shoulder the burden of rising energy expenses. In response, they may be forced to lay off workers and pass on the higher costs to consumers.
Texas would suffer a double blow. Not only is our state the top consumer of domestic energy, we are also the leading producer. Texas remains the nation’s largest producer of oil and gas and refining operations, accounting for more than one-fourth of total U.S. refining capacity. The energy sector of Texas employs nearly 400,000 people in high-paying jobs. This means that Texas’s energy workforce would be more susceptible to job loss and financial hardship brought on by the new regulations.
Furthermore, these regulations on U.S. refineries alone will make virtually no environmental impact. The release of greenhouse gases is a global issue. And some of the world’s leading emitters of carbon dioxide, like China and India, are doing little to curb their output. It makes no sense to punish American producers and consumers and to send our jobs overseas for regulations that won’t make a difference. The EPA must take into account the effectiveness of its regulations, as well as the economic impacts.
Protecting jobs in Texas, as well as across America, is my top priority as we enter a new session of Congress. Keeping energy costs low for Americans is essential to stabilizing the economy. To help accomplish these imperatives, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that Congress, not unelected bureaucrats, sets economic, regulatory, and environmental policy. Legislation should be properly vetted and scrutinized. Congress must exercise aggressive oversight in the new session – particularly over the federal agencies that are eager to expand their authority.
The EPA’s recent move is only the latest example of a bureaucratic power grab. Similarly, the unelected members of the Federal Communications Commission recently issued expansive new rules to regulate the Internet, which threaten to suffocate the open and innovative nature of the worldwide web and kill jobs in the process. Over the past two years, the administration has taken multiple steps to grow the size, scope, and power of the federal government.
Without question, the EPA serves an important role. The recent spill of animal fat in the Houston Ship Channel is a reminder that an agency looking out for American environmental welfare is vital. However, their role is not to assume powers Congress has not given them. The new regulations will raise prices for consumers, raise costs for businesses, and kill jobs, while not positively impacting the global environment.
th Congress, one of the major agenda items for the administration and the Democratic Majority was passing cap-and-trade legislation. The goal of the legislation was to purposely increase the price of traditional forms of carbon-based energy, such as coal, gas, and oil, so that consumers would respond by using less of it. This misguided proposal passed the House by a narrow margin. However, the Senate refused to consider a bill that would financially burden Americans and kill energy-dependent jobs, and the cap-and-trade proposal effectively died in Congress. With the EPA’s announcement, the administration has taken the unprecedented step of bypassing Congress with these backdoor regulations and is sending the clear message that it intends to impose its cap-and-trade program on Americans – one way or another.