Thursday, June 14, 2012


When Republicans are talking about their Jobs Bills this is what they really mean:

 #1. H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, is a jobs bill if, and only if, the Republican jobs plan is to develop jobs in oncology. This bill gets rid of the alleged job killing regulations regulating pesticides entering our streams and lakes. This bill says it is okay to use these pesticides without a permit. The problem began with citizen lawsuits and was exacerbated by the Environmental Protection Agency, under President George W. Bush, issuing a rule that said no permits were needed to use pesticides in, near, or over our lakes and streams.

In National Cotton Council v. EPA (553 F.3d 927), a consolidated case from the Sixth Circuit, that court concluded that the EPA's final rule, not requiring permits for the use of pesticides capable of entering the waterways, was not a reasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act's permitting requirements. The court rejected EPA's contention that, when pesticides are applied over, into, or near waterbodies to control pests, they are not considered pollutants as long as they comply with FIFRA, and held that NPDES permits are required for all pesticide applications that may leave a residue in water. This bill wants to overturn National Cotton Council. Note to House Republicans: Americans do not want poisons in the waters we drink, bathe, wash dishes, and do laundry. 

#2. H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, is another amazing bill from the House Republican Conference that will give America jobs in oncology. The bill is falsely premised on the notion that greenhouse gases do not adversely affect the environment. This bill clears the way for big polluters to foul the air we breathe.

Respected and notable scientific organization, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are all in agreement that manmade greenhouse gases do contribute to climate change, and that these impacts can be mitigated through policy to curb these emissions.

 Additionally, many of the Nation's top public health advocacy groups, including the American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association, as well as leading civil rights groups, such as the NAACP and the Environmental Law and Poverty Center, have all come out strongly against this bill saying that it would leave our most vulnerable citizens and our most vulnerable communities unprotected if this bill were to become law.

 #3. H. J. Res. 37, a Resolution of disapproval regarding the FCC’s regulation of the Internet and broadband industry practices. This Resolution expresses Congress's disapproval of the rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on December 21, 2010, relating to preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices. Prohibits such rule from having any force or effect. Republicans want to turn the clock back to the days when behemoth companies monopolized the internet marketplace. Do you remember 50¢ a minute dial up service using a modem? 

This is a Republican effort to shut down the one job-creating engine that has driven our economy over the last 15 years, since we opened up the competition through legislation. The GOP wants to shut it down. Fifty percent of the growth of our economy in the 1990s was in the internet sector, because we had competition.

#4. H.R. 2018. the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, is another attack by the Republican Conference on the Clean Water Act. Under this legislation, the EPA would be prohibited from recommending stricter discharge standards for toxic pollutants such as lead or mercury, even if the protection of human health is at stake, unless the State consents to such changes. In my view, this policy does not move our Nation forward, but rather reverses our direction and moves our Nation back 40 years to before the enactment of the Clean Water Act. Polluted water means more cancer, more cancer means more jobs in oncology.

 #5. H.R. 1315, the Consumer Financial Protection & Soundness Improvement Act, is an affront to Americans. Before Senate Republicans will even allow the President's nominee as Chairman of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, House Republicans want to gut the power of that office. The President's nominee is Richard Cordray of Ohio. His nomination is in the process of being returned to the President under Rule XXXI, paragraph 6 of the Standing Rules of the Senate at sine die adjournment of the 112th Congress, 1st session. That will trigger the President's power to make a recess appointment of Mr. Cordray.

President William J. Clinton made 139 recess appointments, 95 to full-time positions. President George W. Bush made 171 recess appointments, of which 99 were to full-time positions.2 As of December 8, 2011, President Barack Obama had made 28 recess appointments, all to full-time positions.

#6. H.R. 2587, Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act, is another example of Republicans siding against working people by taking away the rights of workers under the National Labor Relations Act.

H.R. 2587 amends the National Labor Relations Act to deny the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) any power to: (1) order an employer (or seek an order against an employer) to restore or reinstate any work, product, production line, or equipment; (2) rescind any relocation, transfer, subcontracting, outsourcing, or other change regarding the location, entity, or employer who shall be engaged in production or other business operations; or (3) require any employer to make an initial or additional investment at a particular plant, facility, or location. And it reaches all complaints already in the system. It applies the amendment made by this Act to any complaint for which a final adjudication by the NLRB has not been made by the date of enactment. The GOP wants Americans to have the right to work for less and less.

#7. H.R. 2401, the Transparency In Regulatory Analysis Of Impacts On The Nation (the TRAIN Act) is another Republican attack on the Clean Air Act. The TRAIN Act, will block and indefinitely delay two EPA rules that reduce pollution from power plants: the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. These rules are critical to protecting the public health. Each year these rules will prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths, tens of thousands of heart attacks, and hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks. They will also prevent over 2 million lost workdays. If this legislation is enacted, these public health benefits will be lost, and more babies will be born with birth defects and learning disabilities.

The Whitfield amendment will eviscerate the law's ability to require power plants to install modern pollution controls. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that if the Whitfield amendment is enacted, EPA will never be able to issue a rule to prevent emissions from power plants in one State from polluting the air in a downwind State. She also said that the amendment could destroy the agency's ability to ever reduce toxic mercury emissions from power plants.

 The Latta amendment is even worse. It will reverse 40 years of clean air policy, repealing the health-based standards that are at the heart of the Clean Air Act. The Latta amendment would allow our national goals for clean air to be determined by corporate profits, not public health.

Until George W. Bush took over America managed to both clean up the environment and have a robust economy. We can have jobs without pollution. These radical amendments were never examined in hearings or debated in the Energy and Commerce Committee or in any other committee. Members were asked to vote on major changes to the Clean Air Act without any idea of their terrible impact on air quality and public health. And those amendments are in this bill, this very bad bill.

 #8. H.R. 2681, is the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act. The Republicans again say if we want jobs, we have to have pollution. Only, where are the jobs? Prior to passage of H.R. 2681 the House voted 136 times this Congress to block action to address climate change, to halt efforts to reduce air and water pollution, to undermine protections for public lands in coastal areas, and to weaken the protections of the environment in other ways as well. This is the most anti-environment Congress in history.

Last month, the House passed radical legislation to turn back 40 years of progress towards clean air. That bill will nullify pollution control requirements on power plants--the largest source of toxic mercury pollution in the country--and weaken our national clean air goals by basing them on corporate profits, not on public health.

With H.R. 2681 the House continues its frontal assault on public health and the environment. This bill would gut Clean Air Act provisions protecting American families from toxic air pollutants. If this bill is enacted, there will be more cases of cancer, birth defects, and brain damage. The ability of our children to think and learn will be impaired because of their exposure to mercury and other dangerous air pollutants.

In 1990, the Congress, on a bipartisan basis, voted to protect the public from these toxic pollutants. The law directed EPA to set standards requiring the use of a Maximum Achievable Control Technology to control emissions of mercury, arsenic, dioxin, PCBs, and other toxic emissions. This approach has worked well. Industrial emissions of carcinogens and other highly toxic chemicals have been reduced by 1.7 million tons each year.

EPA has reduced pollution from dozens of industrial sectors. More than 100 categories of sources have been required to cut their pollution, and this has delivered major public health benefits to this Nation. But a large source of categories still have not been required to control toxic air pollution due to delays and litigation.

H.R. 2681 would nullify and indefinitely delay EPA's efforts to reduce toxic emissions from cement plants. The bill says that EPA cannot require any pollution reduction from any cement plant for at least 5 years

#9. H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, is another bill paving the way for more environmental pollution. This bill provides that the following rules shall have no force or effect and shall be treated as though they had never taken effect: (1) the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Major Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters; (2) the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Area Sources: Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers; (3) the Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources and Emission Guidelines for Existing Sources: Commercial and Industrial Solid Waste Incineration Units; and (4) Identification of Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials That are Solid Waste. There is the GOP's grand jobs bills plan, giving no force or effect to EPA rules and regulations so that corporate polluters can dump toxic matter into the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the earth upon which we live.

#10. H.R. 2273, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act is a bill that blocks the EPA from issuing science-based standards to manage the disposal of coal ash. The Republican majority rejected language, which had the support of a number of utilities, which would have protected EPA's authority to issue health-based standards under the Clean Water Act.

House Republicans are attacking the EPA and not working on jobs. This bill does nothing to regulate coal ash in a way that protects the environment or public health. This bill wants to give regulatory power to States, but there is no national minimum standard for State permitting programs in this bill.

The municipal solid waste standards used by this dangerous piece of legislation are inadequate to protect our communities from dangerous toxins. Many of the toxins found in coal residuals are simply dangerous to public health and are known cancer-causing agents. Just a few of the toxins found in coal ash include arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel, and that's not the whole list.

#11. H.R. 1904, the Southeast Arizona Resource Utilization & Conservation Act, simply put this bill gives away National Forest land to the Resolution Copper Corporation. There could be between $2 billion to $7 billion worth of copper on this land. So you may ask, what is the problem. The problem is trading with the enemy

A controlling 55 percent of Resolution Copper's shares are owned by the giant mining conglomerate Rio Tinto. Rio Tinto owns 65 percent of the world's largest open pit uranium mine, the Rossing Mine, in Namibia. Their second-largest partner in the Rossing Uranium Mine, with a 15 percent stake and two people on the board of directors, is the government of Iran.

Democrats offered a motion to recommit with instructions, called the Deutch Amendment, to require that the benefit of our nation's copper resources will not accrue to Iran. That motion failed. This bill is reckless because the uranium from the mine in Namibia is the stuff that Iran is converting into nuclear grade material. 

The U.N. Security Council has six times approved resolutions condemning Iran for its violations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and this House has twice enacted strong Iran nuclear sanctions. Yet Rio Tinto is in partnership with the Iranian government to mine uranium. This bill tells Rio Tinto to disregard the U.N. sanctions and to disregard the sanctions of U.S. law.

What the Deutch amendment said is that if you want to do business with America, you need to stop doing business with Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Under this amendment, as soon as Rio Tinto severs its partnership with Iran and Ahmadinejad, Rio Tinto's Resolution Copper affiliate can proceed to take title to these very valuable Federal lands in Arizona in the United States of America.

H.R. 1904 undermines our nuclear nonproliferation policy.

#12. H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011, is not really a jobs bill, it is a retraining bill. Who pays for this retraining? One group of veterans is taxed to pay the freight on the new program.

Representative Bob Filner [D. CA-51] the ranking member of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, described H.R. 2433, as it went through the committee process, as a bill that did not create jobs, but actually taxed veterans. Republicans have taken a pledge not to vote for anything that taxed anybody. H.R. 2433 bill taxes veterans. Filner says: "It actually taxes one group of veterans to help some other group of veterans. And I still feel the same way about the bill as it came through the process. Now I support all programs that will help veterans and improve their lives, and I know this bill is called a jobs bill. But, it is merely a retraining bill."

If there is any group of Americans who don't deserve to be taxed for the training that might get them a job it is our veterans. 

#13. H.R. 1230, is the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, is the legislative response from House Republicans to the "Drill Baby Drill" chant of the 2008 Republican National Convention. House Republicans learned nothing from the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill. Their bill does not address the lax regulatory relationship between the Department of the Interior and the oil industry. 

The Obama administration is already moving forward to hold these lease sales in the Gulf later this year and early next year, and they are going to be more responsible in assessing the environmental impact of offshore drilling. Even the Congressional Budget Office analysis of H.R. 1230 concludes, "CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have no significant impact on proceeds from lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico because the proposed schedule is similar to the plan included in the DOI's budget for 2011".

The other big problem with H.R. is that it requires the sale of offshore oil lease drilling permits off the shore of Virginia. 78% of that area is utilized by our Armed Forces as a training area. The military says that offshore oil rigs will impede readiness by impeding training. The balance of that area is home to major shipping lanes, making the area unacceptable as a site for offshore drilling.

 #14. H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, is what the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Representative Russ Holt [D. NJ-12] calls one of the "Amnesia Acts" because the Republicans act as if Gulf Oil Spill never happened. 

Only 1 year and 19 days before H.R. 1229 came to the floor of the House, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded killing 11 workers and creating economic and environmental havoc. For 87 days following the explosion, more than 4 million barrels of oil spewed from the blown-out Macondo well, coating nearly 1,000 miles of gulf coastline and temporarily closing over 88 square miles of some of the Nation's most productive fishing grounds.

Holt reminds us that "this Congress has not enacted a single legislative reform to improve the safety of offshore drilling. Instead, the majority now brings forward in the name of spurious claims a bill to encourage more domestic offshore drilling without applying the lessons learned from the gulf blowout. With the spurious claim that more domestic offshore drilling will lower gas prices, they claim that we have to grease the skids, we have to open the doors, we have to give further breaks to the oil companies."

H.R. 1229 imposes artificial and arbitrary deadlines on the Department of the Interior to approve permits to drill. Specifically, this legislation requires the Department to act on a permit to drill within 30 days. After 60 days, whether or not--whether or not, the safety and environmental review has been completed by the Interior Department, the drilling application would be deemed approved.

Offshore drilling in U.S. waters, as determined by the spill commission, the bipartisan, independent spill commission, is four times more deadly than in other parts of the world prior to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. It was four times more deadly to drill in the gulf by the same companies than to drill, for example, in the North Sea, hardly a comfortable environment. Under this bill, we could actually have less careful oversight and review of offshore drilling than we had before the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

This legislation issues a blanket extension of existing leases. In contrast to this across-the-board approach, the Department is working on a case-by-case basis to extend existing leases affected by the temporary suspension of new drilling, where such action is warranted, not on a blanket basis but on the basis of the actual facts, of the actual evidence. H.R. 1229 would give a free ride to companies even if their leases are many years from expiring.

Under the George Bush administration, in 2008, the Energy Information Administration said, if all drilling over the entire east coast Continental Shelf were opened up, the effect on oil prices would be "insignificant."

H.R. 1229 also contains language designed to close the doors of the courthouse to citizens who believe that the Federal Government is not complying with the law. Imagine that. Citizens who are trying to be diligent citizens would not be able to make sure that the law is being applied. Citizens from Florida or Alabama would be forced to bring any lawsuits regarding energy projects in the Gulf of Mexico to Louisiana or Texas courts. In addition, H.R. 1229 contains language that would prevent attorneys' fees from being awarded in successful cases--a deterrent if I've ever heard of one. These provisions are aimed at environmental plaintiffs, but will almost certainly impair the legal rights of many other potential plaintiffs, including other oil and gas companies.

Bringing suit will be almost impossible because the bill creates a presumption that the administrative findings and conclusions relating to the challenged federal action or decision are correct. Rebuttal of this presumption is available, but only by the preponderance of the evidence contained in the administrative record. This will have a severe impact on the ability of litigants to develop an evidentiary record.

#15. H.R. 1231, is the Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act, and is the third of what Representative Holt calls the "Amnesia Acts". This bill mandates new leasing off the economically important coastlines of southern California, Alaska, and the entire eastern seaboard, before stronger safeguards can be put in place. It's cynical to claim that more drilling will relieve high gas prices. More drilling only means more profits for the oil industry, not lower costs at the pump.

Oil companies hardly need a boost right now. They're receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies and reaping record profits.

On top of that, the oil industry is already drilling more than ever before. For example, offshore production has increased by more than a third in the last 2 years, and the gulf produced 1.6 million barrels of oil per day last year, an all-time record. Yet, despite all that drilling, gas prices continue to soar, and the reason is clear: More drilling here in the U.S. has little effect on the global oil market.

Nearly three-quarters of the world's proven oil resources are owned by OPEC nations. Even if we expanded offshore drilling significantly, there wouldn't be an impact on gas prices until 2030; and even then, it would be a matter of just 5 cents a gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration.

#16. H.R. 2021, is the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, is a huge giveaway to the Big Oil Lobby. The flaws in the legislation include allowing huge increases in air pollution from oil and gas drilling activities by moving the point of measurement from the drill ship to the shore.

This bill of the States to regulate the emissions of support vessels and it sets an arbitrary deadline of 6 months for final agency action on every offshore exploratory drilling permit, no matter the size or complexity of the proposed operations. The EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation testified before the Energy and Commerce Committee that 6 months is too short to allow for adequate technical analysis, public participation, GPO's PDF and administrative review. Witnesses for the States of California and Delaware agree this wouldn't work for their State programs. Yet these concerns have been ignored.

The legislation eliminates the Environmental Appeals Board from the permitting process, even though it is a cheaper, faster, and more expert substitute for judicial review. And it requires all challenges to air permits to be raised before the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., thousands of miles away from the affected communities.

The administration opposes H.R. 2021 because it would curtail the authority of EPA to help ensure that domestic oil production on the Outer Continental Shelf proceeds safely, responsibly, and with opportunities for efficient stakeholder input.

#17. H.R. 1938, the North American-Made Energy Security Act, is yet another attempt by House Republicans, controlled by the Big Oil Lobby, to expedite the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Keystone XL pipeline would carry a sludge made from Canadian tar sands through the middle of America. In doing so, it would raise gas prices, endanger water supplies, and increase carbon emissions; and that's why it should not be approved.

Keystone XL will make us more reliant on the dirtiest source of fuel currently available. On a life-cycle basis, tar sands emit far more carbon pollution than conventional oil--almost 40 percent more by some estimates. That's because it takes huge amounts of energy to take something the consistency of tar, which they mine, and turn it into synthetic oil. We should be reducing our oil dependence and using cleaner fuels, but Keystone is a big step in the wrong direction.

There are many other concerns, including safety. One year after the Kalamazoo River oil pipeline spill 30 miles of the river are still closed. Another massive oil pipeline spill occurred into the Yellowstone River. TransCanada, Keystone XL's owner and operator, has had 12 spills on the first Keystone pipeline in its first year of operation. Keystone One was even shut down by the Department of Transportation as "hazardous to life, property, and the environment.'' The risks from spills are exacerbated with Keystone XL because it is rooted through the Ogallala aquifer, which spans eight States and providing drinking water for 2 million people.