Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today praised the House of Representatives for passing legislation he sponsored with Congressman Fred Upton, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases -- including carbon dioxide, a byproduct of human breathing -- as a dangerous pollutant. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate failed to vote to restrict this EPA power grab.
"I promised Montanans I'd fight to undo the damage the Senate did yesterday," said Rehberg, a member of the Congressional Western Caucus. "This isn't a battle of left versus right, but of rural versus urban. States like New York and California want to handicap energy-producing states like Montana with a job-killing energy tax designed to increase prices. Even as our economy continues to struggle, a policy to raise energy prices doesn't make sense anywhere but in Washington, D.C. High prices tipped our economy into recession, and a new energy tax will hamper our economic recovery. "
Cap-and-tax proposals failed to gain support from a single Representative -- Republican or Democrat -- from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota or South Dakota during the 111th Congress. Since the policies couldn't pass muster among elected officials, unelected EPA bureaucrats decided on their own to change their definition of "air pollutants" under the Clean Air Act to include greenhouse gases. This was done without congressional approval. Regulating, capping, and taxing greenhouse gases will increase the cost of gas, electricity and food for Montana families, right during the middle of a devastating recession.
The EPA's regulatory scheme is particularly bad for Montana and other rural Western states. At a time when our economy is hemorrhaging jobs, the non-partisan Heritage Foundation warned that cap-and-tax would've cost more than 8,600 jobs in Montana alone. In places like Sidney or Colstrip, Montanans work jobs that depend on traditional sources of energy, including oil and coal. Montanans sit on a huge stockpile of energy, and the state is ready and willing to meet a growing national demand.
Montana's agriculture producers will also be affected by increased fertilizer and gas prices, among other things. "What the EPA is doing here is absolutely devastating to the agriculture industry and the state of Montana," said Jake Cummins, Executive Vice President of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. "Despite Congress not giving them the authority for them to proceed, they've just decided to ignore Congress, spit in the face of the people and do whatever the heck they want. It's outrageous, it's un-American, and it's got to be stopped. I was shocked to see how Senate voted yesterday. I sincerely hope they'll reconsider their position, because they're going to get an earful about it back home in a big way. You just can't claim you're for agriculture and then you vote to let the EPA do whatever it wants to do to destroy our state's economy."