Republican U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson of Georgia are soundly opposing what would amount to a new national "energy tax" that threatens to hit all Americans' pocketbooks.
Our senators are being joined by nearly 40 others -- not a majority so far -- in opposing implementation of new Obama administration Environmental Protection Agency rules designed to impose "greenhouse gas" emissions controls. The restrictions would result in higher energy prices. Congress has refused to impose such rules, so the administration is making an end run around lawmakers.
We all want clean air, of course. But with gasoline and oil prices in our country and worldwide already rising, and with still higher prices threatened because of trouble in the oil-producing country of Libya, where there is a revolt against dictator Moammar Gadhafi, this is no time for Congress to raise Americans' energy costs still higher.
Sen. Corker, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is among the sponsors of a bill titled the Energy Tax Prevention Act. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House. The bills would halt the administration's attempt to get around Congress.
Sen. Corker said: "American families and businesses can't afford the new energy tax that EPA's planned regulation of carbon emissions would create. It is inappropriate for the EPA to mandate large-scale carbon emissions reductions through administrative regulations, and instead, it is my hope that in Congress we will determine a rational energy policy for the country, broadly advancing our energy security and maintaining policies to ensure clean air and water."
Sen. Alexander said: "America wants a low-cost clean-energy policy that keeps and grows jobs here, not a comprehensive, high-cost clean-energy policy that sends jobs overseas looking for cheap electricity, which Congress already rejected and a group of unelected Washington bureaucrats now seeks to impose."
Sen. Chambliss said: "Congress is the appropriate branch of the federal government to debate and design a climate change policy. I do not appreciate the implied threat that if Congress does not go along with the EPA, the agency will impose costly regulations. This bill is about preserving the traditional and constitutional role of Congress as elected representatives of the citizens of this country to make necessary and proper laws for our nation."
Sen. Isakson said: "The last thing America's families and businesses need during this recession is a back door regulatory effort by the Administration to implement cap and trade. This legislation ensures that the Administration will not be able to regulate what it could not legislate, while also ensuring that they will not add new burdensome, job-killing energy taxes. ... I will do all that I can to repeal onerous regulations and to prevent the Administration from imposing new taxes through more regulations."
There are right and timely ways to limit objectionable emissions, and there are right and timely ways to avoid unnecessarily higher energy costs to the American people. Sens. Corker, Alexander, Chambliss and Isakson, and dozens of others who stand with them to avert higher energy costs, are seeking to do the right thing at this time.