"In 1999, the public was outraged to learn that Congressman Tony Schnell had introduced Bill 602P to allow the United States Postal Service to impose a five cent tax on every single email that was sent. Email action alerts were sent out with alarming instructions to "read this if you intend to stay online and continue using email."
Congressional offices were flooded by frustrated constituents. The issue even got raised at campaign debates, where candidates predictably came out in opposition to this misguided scheme.
"There was just one problem.
"None of it was real. There was no Bill 602P. There wasn't even a Congressman Schnell in the House of Representatives. The whole thing was an Internet hoax, and everyone should have just moved on.
"But that is not what happened. Undaunted by actual facts, Republicans forged ahead with "The Internet Access Charge Prohibition Act of 1999". Why? Apparently because only by passing actual legislation to prohibit the goals of the imaginary legislation authored by a fictitious Congressman could we prevent these horrible surcharges from being imposed in the real world.
"I suppose it is up to leaders in Congress to decide whether they wish to waste time on a fight against problems cooked up in fantasy-land instead of solving the real problems facing America.
"But it turns out that the Internet Access Charge Prohibition Act did more than prohibit a fake internet fee from ever moving forward. What the bill actually did was prohibit charges from being used to help poor and rural Americans get phone service. Any other charge, including charges that could be used to pad telecommunications company profits, would have been fully allowed under the bill.
"I am reminded of that legislation as we consider this bill to prevent the regulation of farm dust. Like the email tax hoax, there is no plan to regulate farm dust. Let me say that again: EPA has made it very clear that the so-called "plan" to regulate farm dust is a myth.
"But that isn't stopping Republicans from moving forward with this legislation. And, just like the email tax bill, this bill goes well beyond its stated intent --because it also blocks EPA from setting standards for the dirty soot that gets spewed out of coal-fired power plants, incinerators, refineries and chemical plants.
"This bill should be relegated to the "dust-bin' of similar urban legends, along with Congressman Schnell's imaginary email tax bill."