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Public Statements

Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. POLIS. Madam Chair, this amendment is simple, and I appreciate the rule making it in order. It allows the Environmental Protection Agency to continue protecting the American people from the greatest public health and environmental challenge in global history, global climate change.

The overwhelming scientific evidence suggests that greenhouse gases and carbon pollution, if left unchecked, pose a significant threat to public health. This is not a scientific conclusion that anybody in the investigative community desires or wants. It is an unfortunate reality. I simply want the administrator to have the ability to temporarily unlock the handcuffs on the bill if there is a significant threat to the public health.

Let's walk ourselves through what this bill does. The bill tells the EPA, EPA, you have done your homework just like the Supreme Court told you to do, and every inch of credible science is telling you there is a danger to America's health. Yet, we here in Congress know better. We will pretend like there is not a danger to the American health. We won't allow you, the EPA, that we set up and charged with this, to pay attention to the warnings or protect Americans from the dangers.

To me, that's a very dangerous directive, telling the EPA they can't act even though they know we are in danger. If there was a meteor hurtling towards us, I would hope that this body wouldn't pass a bill that tells NASA to ignore it, to step away from the telescope, specifically forbids them from telling people to get out of the way. Yet that's exactly what this bill does with the very real and present danger.

I, for one, want the EPA to be able to protect me, and my family and my constituents and all American families when the overwhelming warning signs say they should do just that. But if this body sends a message to the contrary, at the very least we should be smart enough to include a temporary escape hatch, a safety valve that my amendment provides.

Madam Chair, I am going to vote today to put America's health before big polluters. The other side of the aisle likes to skew the facts. And instead of paying attention to the warning signs, they protect their big polluter friends by confusing the facts. It's critical that we provide a safety valve that when there is a clear and present danger to the health of the American people we don't hamstring the very agency that we have set up to protect the health of the American people, and enable them to move forward to protect us.

This endangerment finding, the title of the EPA's research on dangers to our health, was based on sound science and found that as climate change increases, so does ground ozone level, air- and water-borne pathogens, and mold and pollen allergens that affect and make health problems worse like asthma, respiratory irritation, and heart disease. We cannot oversimplify a very serious problem with no easy answers.


Mr. POLIS. I thank the gentleman from Georgia. My concern is that the underlying bill removes some of the authority under these conditions that this amendment would reinstate. If this amendment merely restates this, I would hope that we can clarify the bill by specifically allowing the EPA the authority to suspend the prohibitions in the bill if a detailed analysis demonstrates that ground-level ozone, or extreme weather events, or food- and water-borne pathogens are a significant threat to public health. And, of course, we would hope that under their charge the EPA would then proceed if given this authority with regard to protecting the public health.

To the extent that this clarifies something that was consistent with the intent of the original bill, I would hope that the gentleman would accept it. If it is contrary to a small element of the bill, we would hope to reestablish that authority in the case of a significant threat to public health, again, with the additional burden and requirement of a detailed analysis under the law.

I reserve the balance of my time.



Mr. POLIS. Madam Chair, I have a point of parliamentary inquiry.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman will state his inquiry.

Mr. POLIS. Is the amendment germane to the bill?

The Acting CHAIR. Under the circumstances that calls for an advisory opinion, which the Chair will not render.

The gentleman from Colorado has 1 minute remaining.

Mr. POLIS. Well, again, the Rules Committee found, and I believe the Parliamentarian advised, that the amendment was germane, and I have not been informed otherwise other than by the gentleman from California.

Does the gentleman want to appeal the ruling of the Parliamentarian? I believe that it is germane.

The Acting CHAIR. The amendment is pending. There is no occasion for a ruling on whether it is germane.

Mr. POLIS. The amendment is pending; that's correct. Well, again, if the rule does waive this, we discussed in Rules Committee yesterday, and I believe that all the non-germane amendments were not included under this rule.

Mr. BILBRAY. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. POLIS. I yield to the gentleman from California.

Mr. BILBRAY. As I said, it's not germane to the issue.

Mr. POLIS. Reclaiming my time, there might be a different use of the word "germane" by the gentleman. I would encourage all of us to try to be on the same page with regard to the word "germane."

It is germane to the bill, the topic.

Again, all my amendment does is say that if the EPA sees the danger they should act. It's a safety valve. The amendment respects the finding of the Supreme Court in the Massachusetts vs. EPA case that ensures that the Clean Air Act still has the ability to protect the public and that it is not removed under the underlying bill.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. POLIS. The underlying bill tells the EPA in this case to perhaps ignore some science. My amendment says that the science shouldn't be ignored if it means you are risking people's lives.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. POLIS. It's an important clarification and I urge support of the amendment.


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