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Department Of The Interior, Environment, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, D.C.

Department Of The Interior, Environment, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010


Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss an amendment I filed to the Interior appropriations bill, and in doing so, I hope to remind my colleagues about their responsibility as federally elected representatives of the citizens of the United States. The U.S. Constitution, the document written by the people to empower and limit government, specifically gives the Congress the power to make the laws that direct this government. The first section of the first article of the Constitution states ``All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.'' The people also established an executive power and a judicial power, but put the lawmaking power specifically into the hands of Congress

I would invite my colleagues to consider for a moment, and to remind themselves, why the people put the control of the Nation's laws into the hands of Congress, and not to the other branches of government. It is because Congress is directly answerable to the people. For members of Congress, there is no escape from the people. Our founding document ensures that we routinely have elections whereby lawmakers face the citizens who sent them here. By limiting legislative powers to Congress, the people have secured this power to themselves. So we see that the people are willing to live under laws, but only to the extent that those laws are their own.

This is a principle upon which our Nation was founded. This is a principle upon which we have achieved our status as a great nation. It is a principle that has made our government an inspiration to generations of free minds throughout the world. And I believe it is a principle that is being weakened on our watch during the 111th Congress.

In April of 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v. EPA, by a 5 to 4 margin, that the Environmental Protection Agency could act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions as a pollutant from vehicles under the Clean Air Act without further authorization from Congress. And it is widely believed that this decision allows the EPA to also regulate carbon dioxide emissions from all other sources, as well, without further action from Congress.

I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA and even consider it ill-informed in some respects. However, I don't question the role of the Court to make such a decision. After all, the people did, in fact, give the Supreme Court the jurisdiction to interpret the laws of Congress.

Furthermore, I disagree with the EPA's finding that carbon dioxide poses an endangerment to humans and that it is a pollutant. Unlike conventional pollutants, CO2 does not normally cause direct harm to our environment or to our bodies. It is considered an endangerment only because it has the potential as a greenhouse gas to warm the planet. What seems to be completely lost by the EPA, is that most scientists will tell you that a warming climate is a net benefit, while a cooling climate is a net detriment to life on Earth.

If greenhouse gases and warming are detrimental to life, then why doesn't the EPA propose to regulate water vapor? Water vapor makes up 95 percent of all greenhouse gases, and a cubic foot of water vapor has a much stronger warming factor than a cubit foot of carbon dioxide?

Those are just a couple questions that haven't been answered sufficiently, in my view. And so I disagree with the EPA's finding that carbon dioxide is an endangerment. In spite of that, I do recognize that the Supreme Court has the ability to interpret the Clean Air Act in a way that allows the EPA to make this finding.

However, I doubt that any of my colleagues can honestly say that when Congress voted for the Clean Air Act in 1970, that we intended that carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant. But now we are witnessing the EPA initiating a process to that end which will lead to the most sweeping, and probably most expensive set of regulations in our nation's history, with no specific authorization from Congress to do so.

Is it the proper role of Congress to sit by and allow an independent agency, with nary an elected official within its walls to take over every single energy producing activity in the Nation? Could there be a more dramatic and sweeping centralization of government power than the move to control all carbon dioxide emissions? And are we, as the elected body representing the people going to hide behind a decision by a Supreme Court and just watch it happen? While technically, the Supreme Court and the EPA are acting within their jurisdictions and authority. Certainly, though, with such far reaching regulations, Congress has a responsibility to put these actions back under the direct authority of Congress, and thus back into the hands of the people.

My amendment would do just that. It would bar the EPA from moving forward with these far reaching regulations until Congress has expressly authorized such an action. I urge my colleagues to restore Congress and the people to their proper role over laws that relate to the regulation of carbon dioxide, and support my amendment.


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