Va. delegates pass measure urging Congress to stop EPA from further regulating air quality
Virginia's House on Wednesday endorsed a sweeping resolution -- written at least in part, its sponsor acknowledged, by the coal industry -- urging Congress to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases and to impose a two-year moratorium on the agency from writing any new air-quality regulations except in an emergency.
The resolution, sponsored by Del. James W. "Will" Morefield (R-Tazewell), passed the Republican-led House with nine co-sponsors on a vote of 64 to 33.
Morefield, who comes from the state's coal-mining area, said the General Assembly needed to fight back against the EPA's overweening authority. Citing a study by the Heritage Foundation, Morefield said recently proposed greenhouse regulations would cripple the economy by imposing $23 billion in new costs on energy producers.
"It suggests just the tip of the iceberg of what's coming," Morefield said, adding that Appalachian Power alone has spent $2 billion to meet federal regulations.
"I must stress to the body that more regulations will result in higher utility rates and fewer well-paying jobs in my district," said Morefield, who is serving his second term in the House. "This is no longer about the birds and the bees ... "
Other Republicans suggested that the effort to regulate greenhouse gases to stop global warming is founded on bogus science.
But Democrats grilled Morefield on the scope of his resolution and warned that if successful, it would gut EPA efforts to control ground-level ozone, smog, acid rain and other airborne pollutants.
Del. David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville) also drew attention to Morefield's use of the phrase "train wreck" in the resolution.
"I guess I'd ask the gentleman, since this is not a legal term, and it doesn't seem to be a scientific term, is this your term -- or did it come from some other organization or group?' Toscano asked.
"This was not my term. This was presented to me by the coal industry," Morefield replied, eliciting guffaws on the other side of the aisle.
Toscano pointed out that the Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that the EPA, under the Clean Air Act, is required to regulate greenhouse gases.
The Sierra Club's Virginia chapter wasted no time after the vote issuing a news release characterizing the resolution as an "assault on clean air" and a gift to "big polluters who are jeopardizing our families' well-being."
HR72 is all but certain to receive a chillier reception in the Senate.
*As a House resolution, and not a joint resolution , HR72 will not go to the Senate...
| February 23, 2011; 5:44 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly 2011
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