Skip to comments.Green Rules Seen on "Chopping Block" Post-Rita
Posted on 09/27/2005 4:57:15 PM PDT by anymouse
House Republicans on Wednesday will launch a rapid-fire assault against environmental protections on the pretext of helping the U.S. oil and gas industry recover from hurricane damage, environmental groups charge.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Resources Committee are holding separate meetings to finalize legislation on Wednesday, with the aim of combining them into a single energy bill for the full House to debate next week.
The resources panel, led by Richard Pombo of California, wants to lift a ban on Florida offshore drilling, promote oil shale and sell a dozen national parks for energy development.
"This really has very little to do with the hurricanes or relief efforts or even refiners. This is deregulation pure and simple," said John Walke of Natural Resources Defense Council.
Texan Joe Barton's energy committee wants to expand U.S. gasoline production by loosening federal rules that limit pollution when refineries or coal-fired power plants are expanded. U.S. gasoline supplies have tightened since hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared across the U.S. Gulf Coast, closing up to one-fourth of the nation's refining capacity.
House Republicans received a thumbs up from President George W. Bush on Monday when he said environmental rules and paperwork are obstacles holding up U.S. refinery expansions.
Bush specifically criticized the relatively obscure "new source review" rule administered by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Clean Air Act. It aims to protect public health by ensuring that refinery expansions do not increase acid rain and smog.
Environmentalists perked up their ears at Bush's remarks, noting that he rarely mentions the program.
"You know darn well that the president doesn't have a clue what new source review is," said Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch. "It's clear that there's a coordinated effort between the White House and Congress to put key environmental protections on the chopping block."
Barton said his bill would help U.S. refiners gird against another natural disaster like the recent hurricanes, which highlighted the U.S. dearth of refining capacity.
In an interview, Barton said new source review "was a tool to blackmail industry" into deferring plant upgrades.
"We don't want more emissions but we do want to give existing industrial facilities the ability to retrofit and modernize without going through a laborious permitting process," Barton said.
A draft copy of Barton's bill would codify an EPA proposal that allows plants to expand their facilities without triggering anti-pollution rules, NRDC'S Walke said. That proposal was frozen by a federal judge in a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
"If the new Barton rule were adopted it would set us back 40 or 50 years," said Judith Enck, a Spitzer aide.
It would also adopt a utility-friendly strategy that says the anti-pollution rules only apply if expansion projects boost hourly emission rates, not overall plant emissions. Using that test, a federal appeals court in June ruled that Duke Power did not violate the law by expanding eight North Carolina plants without adding expensive anti-pollution devices.
Pombo's separate bill would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling as well as letting states opt out of an offshore oil leasing ban. He also wants to sell 15 national parks for energy or commercial development, including the Mary McLeod Bethune House in Washington, D.C.
First sentence... not that it's the opinion of the writer. It's those environmental groups who are making the charge. Yeah, right. No bias there.
Hey Johnny, If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!
President Bush is the font of all evil ever to have existed; hates black people; picks his nose and eats it; and doesn't wash his hands after using the toilet, Democrats said today ...
Spitzer is a dangerous man. Bad enough if he becomes Governor of NY. May he never run for Senate...or higher...
Bush was in the industry for most of his career. I expect he is very familiar with what the greenies have done to try to starve the country of needed energy.
The "Greens" were coopted by the Communists. Get with your movements man ...
Strange and misguided article. He may want to sell leases, not parks. The Bethune house crack at the end makes it seem like a joke.
Sounds good to me.
Enviro-whackos are the reason we have such limited refining capacity.
Enviro-whackos are why we haven't constructed any new nuclear plants in a quarter century.
Enviro-whackos even try to thwart legitimate "green" energy projects like wind farms ("they're dangerous to birds!") or solar power ("the collection fields are ugly!").
Enviro-whackos are why we are not more energy-independent than we are, with their constant whining about drilling in ANWR, the Gulf of Mexico, or off the coast of California.
I'm just waiting for the backlash. Heh heh heh.
Let's git 'er done!
This is a 2 part show. By the end of the first part, 4 days into the thing, this woman would have killed for a plastic spoon!
It's all Gaia and back-to-nature until someone actually has to do it!
This is deregulation pure and simple," said John Walke of Natural Resources Defense Council.
Exactly. And overdue. And FYI John Walke and the rest of your ilk, you are admitting that this is not about clean air, it's about government power and regulation, which is the goal and lifeblood of you "environmentalists".
Refineries aren't needed.
What is needed are more import terminals for refined products at the East and West coast points of consumption.
Its like I always say, "Either you're part of the solution or your're part of the precipitate."