By Ryan Ray
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer took part in a dual effort in Congress to stop what he called "overregulation" aimed at delaying the implementation of new rules under the federal Clean Air Act of 1963. Palmer said the regulatory changes were coercive in nature and constitute a de facto regressive tax increase as he argued in favor of the "Ratepayer Protection Act," which passed the House 287-180 yesterday and now goes before the Senate for a vote.
Palmer, who represents Alabama's 6th congressional district based in the suburbs of Birmingham, offered a scathing critique of the Environmental Protection Agency, whose power to tighten restrictions on energy production as part of new so-called Clean Power Plant requirements is authorized under the Clean Air Act.
"The EPA makes a habit out of claiming more authority than it rightfully has, particularly under this Administration," said Palmer in a news release Wednesday.
"The EPA's proposed "Clean Power Plant' rule is an example of this. This rule would require power plants to reduce emissions by 30% in the next 15 years in order to achieve little to no environmental benefit. According to the NERA, an economic consulting and analysis firm, this proposal would cost between $41 and $73 billion per year. There is a strong possibility this rule will be struck down in court. In the meantime, it could do significant economic damage.
"This rule amounts to a massive tax increase on those Americans least able to pay it. The Ratepayer Protection Act would shield states from being forced or coerced into complying with this unwise and possibly illegal rule. I am glad to support this first step toward rolling back EPA's overregulation."
Palmer is a member of the Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on the Environment. In a meeting of the panel yesterday on Capitol Hill, the first-term Republican inveighed against the EPA's alleged incursions into the legislative branch and vowed to oppose any measure that would raise the price of domestic energy production.
Alabama's 6th congressional district is tied with Texas' 13th district as the most Republican-leaning in the nation. Cook Political Report rates it "R +28."