Throughout his career, Rep. Petri has been a strong supporter of sensible legislation to protect the environment and encourage conservation practices. He opposed efforts to drill for oil and natural gas in national monuments and in the Great Lakes. He also opposes drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Furthermore, Rep. Petri has cosponsored many bills that would provide sensible environmental protection, promote the cleanup of contaminated lands, enable small communities to comply with federal environmental requirements, and provide for better research and response into environmental problems.
Rep. Petri has taken the lead on a number of environmental issues, including, for example, Horicon Marsh in Horicon, WIopposition to environmentally damaging federal water projects such as the billion dollar Auburn Dam that would have destroyed a canyon along the American River in California. He is happy to say that, with the help of some of his friends, Congress was successful in finally stopping the Auburn Dam after a ten year battle. He also has consistently voted to maintain the roadless rule in the Tongass National Forest in order to preserve one of the last remaining pristine forests in America.
Rep. Petri is a leading Republican cosponsor of the Salmon Solutions and Planning Act (H.R. 2111) which will help protect wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Salmon born in the Snake River in Idaho and Washington are having problems returning upriver to spawn due to a series of dams that have been erected to provide hydro-electric power to the region. One of the primary provisions of this bill would require the federal government to study common-sense solutions that can help these salmon species recover but that don't unnecessarily waste taxpayer dollars.
There can be no doubt that we urgently need to clean up our environment and protect our natural resources for the future. Although Rep. Petri considers economic development to be very important, he believes that reasonable regulations can provide for both economic growth and high environmental standards.
Cap and Trade Legislation:
While he believes climate change is a serious concern, Rep. Petri voted against the cap-and-trade bill because of the considerable negative consequences it would have on our state. He made the following statement following the vote in June 2009:
"With pulp and paper, food processing, foundries and printing, Wisconsin has the single most manufacturing-intensive economy in the country on a per capita basis. Our industries are already struggling and cannot afford added burdens at this time. Furthermore, my constituents would likely see their utility bills skyrocket while other parts of the country would see a windfall. In essence, our wealth would be transferred to the coasts which benefit from hydropower and other alternatives.
"While the impact of this bill would hit us particularly hard, it threatens considerable damage to the economy as a whole. It creates a maze of federal bureaucracies and red tape to administer its provisions, expands more than two-dozen federal agencies, creates a National Climate Service and vastly expands the power of the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Although we need to respond to climate change, we have to find a way to do it without jeopardizing our economy and global competitiveness. Without a strong economy, we won't be able to pay for the changes we need to make."
EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases:
In December of 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an "endangerment finding" for greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). This ruling followed a Supreme Court decision(Massachusetts vs. EPA) that compelled EPA to decide whether GHGs are air pollutants that endanger public health and welfare, and if so embark on a regulatory course that is prescribed by statute. Thus, since EPA has issued an "endangerment finding," the agency is now proceeding forward with regulating GHGs under the Clean Air Act.
On April 7, 2011, the House passed H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, by a vote of 255-172. This legislation would prevent EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions for the purpose of addressing climate change. Rep. Petri voted in favor of this bill because he strongly believes that Congress has never given EPA explicit authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. Regardless of one's view on climate change or energy policy, he believes the issue should be addressed by Congress and not a federal agency. Additionally, Rep. Petri has serious concerns about EPA's actions and the ability of the agency to regulate GHGs without causing serious harm to the U.S. economy.