It’s hard to find two more interesting or important congressional panels these days than the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee, chaired, respectively, by Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Doc Hastings, R-Wash.
Upton and Hastings are at the center of the House Republican majority’s efforts to stop two major items on President Barack Obama’s agenda: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson’s attempt to implement by bureaucratic fiat a regulatory version of the cap-and-trade program that was rejected by Congress, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s effort to create, out of whole bureaucratic cloth, a destructive new public lands designation.
Upton and Rep. Ed Whitfield, the Kentucky Republican who chairs the Upton panel’s subcommittee on energy and power, are methodically moving — with important assistance from Minnesota Democrat Colin Peterson — the Energy Tax Prevention Act to block Jackson from implementing the proposed greenhouse gas regulations that would make virtually all economic activity subject to her agency’s authority.
Upton argues that energy costs will increase exponentially if Jackson isn’t stopped: “The very last thing the federal government should do is make matters worse by intentionally driving up the cost of energy. Yet that is exactly what’s in store if the EPA moves forward with its plans to regulate and penalize carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.”
Whitfield adds, “The EPA is pursuing a dramatic shift in our nation’s energy and environmental policy that would send shock waves through our economy. Setting the course of our energy policy is the job of Congress, not a single federal agency acting without authority.”
Meanwhile, Hastings is moving with dispatch to stop Salazar’s Secretarial Order 3310 that creates a new “wild lands” category in the Bureau of Land Management that would effectively stop virtually all energy exploration and development on hundreds of millions of federally owned lands, mostly in the Western states.
Federal law has long stipulated that public lands be available for “multiple uses” in order to ensure economic and other benefits to the nation. During a Natural Resources Committee hearing last week, Hastings closely questioned BLM Director Bob Abbey on whether the Interior Department has lawful authority to create the new designation.
Abbey’s response? “I’m not sure it exists statutorily.” Asked a second time what statutory authority would allow the designation, Abbey said, “I am not aware of one.” Hastings is pushing legislation to deny funds for implementing 3310. Abbey is to be commended for answering candidly, and we hope he did not put his job in jeopardy by telling the truth.