I recently introduced the “Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act (S.228).” This legislation puts the brakes on Washington’s efforts to institute job-crushing carbon regulations. It is a rebuke that unelected bureaucrats badly need.

The Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act will block all federal authorities from regulating greenhouse gases without express approval from Congress. It puts an end to any grounds for legal action regarding climate change under the Clean Water Act, NEPA, the Endangered Species Act or federal tort law generally.

Last November, the people sent a message to Washington that they want less spending, less government and more accountability. Here in Washington, the expectation has been that the President and his party would shift their policies in line with the wishes of the voters. They have not done so.

Sen. John Barrasso

Regulatory agencies in this President’s administration continue to seize powers they were never granted. Most of these powers are being used to enact policies that couldn’t gain majority support even when the President’s party controlled both houses of Congress. We are witnessing an open rebellion by a runaway Washington bureaucracy against the consent of the governed.

A few weeks ago, President Obama told the American people he would enact regulatory reform in order to “root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost or that are just plain dumb.” We now know that these empty words were a smokescreen for more Washington overreach. Just a few hours after the President’s announcement, his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a statement saying it was “confident” that it wouldn’t need to change any of its existing rules, or even the ones it’s considering.

Ordinarily, this arrogance would be shocking. From the EPA, it is business as usual. The EPA routinely usurps enumerated powers and cloaks this maneuver in the act of enforcing existing law. For instance, under the cover of enforcing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the EPA has blocked over 60 leases for increased oil and gas exploration. They claim that the exploration could affect climate change. Nowhere is the EPA authorized to consider climate change under NEPA.

Now they want to usurp even more regulatory power by introducing a backdoor cap-and-trade scheme. They are doing this in defiance of the American people, who have made it so clear that they don’t want cap and trade that even a Democrat-controlled Senate wouldn’t pass it. Yet the EPA plans to keep right on going, whether Americans like it or not.

I’ve introduced the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act because it’s time to end frivolous climate-change lawsuits, stop the abuse of all existing federal law and declare a ceasefire in the war on red, white and blue jobs.

By curtailing the regulation of greenhouse gases while still allowing for regulation in areas where those gases pose a clear and direct threat to the public, this bill puts the burden of proof on the EPA to show that direct exposure to the same gases we inhale and exhale every day will threaten public health.

I recognize that different states may have different opinions, and have the Constitutional right to act on those opinions. For this reason, my bill does not apply to state governments. This bill only reasserts the rightful authority of Congress on regulatory issues and the sovereignty of the individual states against Washington overreach.

I support the exploration of all forms of energy. Any shift to an alternative energy economy should occur because the people decide that alternative energy is better, not because Washington has made every other form of energy too expensive. If the EPA will not listen to the voice of the people, Congress must act. I urge the Senate to pass the Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act.

John Barrasso is Wyoming’s junior U.S. senator.

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Published on March 8, 2011

  • Howard Lauther

    Okay, Kristi, you’re confusing me here. (My intelligence has pathetic limitations, so I beg you to bear with me.) First, you assert that the CAA is extraordinarily difficult to interpret. Fine. Blame Congress, which has notoriously proven that it can turn a single sentence into a phone book. By the same token, you also state that the evidence for greenhouse gases has been scientifically proven and that they need to be regulated. But if the Clean Air Act is as absurd as you say — and, mind you, I’m not qualified to argue that point — are you suggesting that nothing should be done until Congress establishes standards that are clear to everyone and not subject to different interpretations? If I’m not jumping to a conclusion, then I wish you lots of luck in helping to change the ways of our legislators. Finally, how does a fight for American jobs get all tangled up in the fight for a cleaner environment? If a company spews toxins into the air, which in turn leads to the sickness and death of others, are you morally secure that saving the jobs at that company was worth it? In other words, do you place a higher value on the employment of Americans than you do upon their health? If it were a member of your own family who became afflicted with a disease as a result of that pollution, would the existence of some stranger’s job still be more important to you? Indeed, why can’t we have healthy air and good jobs at the same time? Why should we allow industry to get by with harming us, just because they tell us they can’t “afford” to invest in alternatives? If a company is a polluter, then what’s the total cost to society in terms of the jobs it supplies? Forgive me, but I have a habit of asking too many questions, and I should take medication for it.

  • Kristi

    The problem with regulating green house gases via the Clean Air Act is that it is an absurdity. It is extraordinarily burdensome and difficult to interpret even for those with years of experience in dealing with it. EPA’s efforts to regulate green house gas emissions through the CAA will present extraordinary interpretive difficulties. Businesses have struggled with the CAA since its institution because of its very structure. Industry must frequently hold off on development until they get a legal interpretation (frequently through the court system) of the meaning of the language in the act, or the unclear “guidance” that EPA puts forth. For years, as an alternative these same businesses have exported their industry and their pollution which isn’t good for America, or the global environment.
    Frankly, I think green house gasses do need to be regulated and EPA shouldn’t have the burden of proof, when the science behind it is very clear. Even if you don’t believe in climate change, the evidence is irrefutable that increased CO2 emissions form carbonic acid in our world’s oceans, which leads to a decrease in pH. This is and will continue to impact the oceans production of billions of dollars worth of “sea food”. All you need to demonstrate this is a simple chemistry calculation.
    I support Sen. John Barrasso’s Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act because I support industry in our own country. I would rather have our own citizens employed by the factories that produce the goods that we consume. I would rather have those industrial emissions controlled here where we can do something about it. However, this act needs to come with the responsibility of addressing CO2 emissions in totality. Our legislative body needs to stop the political maneuvering and address it through meaningful, clearly written legislation that allows industrial flexibility. This act just holds off regulating CO2, it doesn’t provide a meaningful guide path to accomplish this in the future and is therefore incomplete.

  • Chuck Herz

    Senator Barrasso chooses not to recognize, while bashing the “unelected bureaucrats” at EPA, that EPA was instructed by the Supreme Court (overruling EPA’s then position) that it had both authority and responsibility under the Clean Air Act to determine whether emissions of greenhouse gases cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare (or whether the science is too uncertain to make a reasoned decision). Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007). Given the overwhelming consensus among atmospheric scientists—people who actually know about these things—that they do indeed endanger public health and welfare, EPA’s “unelected bureaucrats” are only doing the job Congress gave them by taking the position they have. If Wyoming politicians keep tucking their heads in the sand about global climate change resulting from human activities, they’ll set up Wyoming’s energy industries to be destroyed by growing awareness of the danger. We should instead be looking hard for ways to lead changes in energy production that are inevitably coming so that Wyoming’s economy benefits.

  • Howard Lauther

    Sen. Barrasso: Your “Defending America’s Affordable Energy and Jobs Act” is typical of the kind of thinking that prevails among Republicans. First of all, to suggest that “unelected” bureaucrats have less wisdom than “elected” ones is comical. And to claim that the EPA is not “authorized to consider climate change”, are you suggesting that “climate” and “environment” are not synonymous? And if you think that the regulation of greenhouse gases should only happen when Congress expressly approves it, that’s only going to happen when its members are choking on fumes and can’t see one another across the aisles. And if you think that “any shift to an alternative energy economy should [only] occur [when] the people decide that [it's] better,” it suggests that you live in a dream world in which the public has enough scientific knowledge and common sense to make such a determination. Indeed, how wise can they be when they keep electing idiotic politicians who can’t think beyond the end of their noses? Let me simply say this: If someone becomes hospitalized because of industry’s pollution of our air or water, and someone like you comes along and argues that nothing should be done because it will cause a loss of jobs, I think that sick person might still have the presence of mind to raise his head off his pillow and mutter, “Quite frankly, Sen. Barrasso, I don’t give a damn.”

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