Closing out the most unproductive and anti-environmental Congress in modern history, House Republicans today passed one last giveaway to the fossil fuel industries that are flooding money into GOP campaign coffers and election advertisements. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, decried the bill and Republican attacks on the free market, on clean energy, and on our environment.
House Republicans now leave town with the worst environmental record in history, and without extending the Production Tax Credit for wind, which will raise taxes on the wind industry by up to $4 billion and eliminate 40,000 American wind jobs.
"Republicans have been so busy manufacturing fake wars on coal and oil that they've missed the real American energy revolution in natural gas, wind, solar and other cleaner, cheaper forms of energy," said Rep. Markey. "Republicans are saying they aren't going to worry about the 44 percent of our electricity that comes from the natural gas, hydropower and clean energy industries, just like their standard-bearer at the top of the ticket won't worry about 47 percent of Americans. This bill doesn't create an American energy strategy, it's just an election strategy for Republicans."
The Republican "Polluterpalooza" bill passed today would:
--Let coal companies off the hook to safely dispose and store the coal ash that results from burning coal and dump mining waste in streams and rivers.
--Repeal the fuel economy standards that will save oil and money.
--Increase the levels of toxic mercury, lead and cancer-causing toxins in our air by gutting the Clean Air Act.
--Overturn Clean Water Act protections by eliminating EPA's ability to apply minimum federal water quality standards.
Republicans also rejected several Democratic amendments, including:
--An amendment by Rep. Markey to set a 25 percent renewable energy standard by 2035.
--An amendment by Rep. Markey to protect Americans from additional heart, lung or other diseases resulting from the increase in dangerous pollution from this bill.
--An amendment by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) to erase language in the GOP bill that denies the fundamental science of climate change.
--An amendment by Rep. Markey to protect any efforts any EPA action to reduce American oil dependence, like fuel economy standards.
The Republican "Polluterpalooza" bill fails to recognize the fundamental shift in the energy marketplace. Over the last four years, coal's share of America's electricity generation has reduced from nearly half to 35 percent. Meanwhile, natural gas has increased from 21 percent to 30 percent, and wind has gone from nearly zero to 4 percent. Solar energy has doubled every year.
In New England, this shift away from coal and towards other sources is in full swing. In 1940, 56 percent of Massachusetts homes used coal for heat. Today it is less than 0.1 percent. Meanwhile,
homeowners across New England are now switching from heating oil to natural gas. In New England, 1.4 million households have switched away from heating oil in the last 8 years, most to natural gas, due to lower costs.
"House Republicans appear to be in an intellectual fog when it comes to energy policy. I guess that's why they can't see the invisible hand of the free market moving America to clean energy and natural gas," said Rep. Markey. "Republicans do favors for coal and oil, even though their prices are going up and jobs are going away. Then they attack and ignore clean energy and natural gas, even though their prices are going down and the jobs they create are adding up."