The Skywriter

Policy Update 3/8/11: Upton and Inhofe's Dirty Air Bill


Policy Update 3/8/11: Upton and Inhofe's Dirty Air Bill

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Politicians continue to attack the Clean Air Act on a daily basis as budget fights, science hearings, and consideration of anti-climate bills persist on Capitol Hill. The government is currently only funded for two more weeks, forcing a major budget compromise by March 18th. House GOP leadership is signaling that they are willing to back down on their most egregious anti-climate riders, but Clean Air Act-blocking legislation continues to be considered in the House and Senate with the introduction of the Upton-Inhofe bill.

Upton-Inhofe Bill Introduced

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) formally introduced his Dirty Air bill last week alongside an identical Senate complement by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). Their bill is designed to halt EPA's Clean Air Act programs for big polluters, blocking regulations that are cutting climate pollution and protecting public health.

In the House, cosponsors of Upton's bill include two key Democrats: Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), Ranking Member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In the Senate, key moderates like Senators Scott Brown (R-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are not yet cosponsors of this attack on the Clean Air Act, but they both voted in support of Senator Murkowski's (R-AK) Dirty Air Act last year.

  • Senator Scott Brown was recently caught on camera effusively thanking David Koch himself for campaign contributions last year. Brown reminds Koch that he's up for re-election and asks Koch for another round of campaign contributions.

In Ohio, a group of 30 rallied outside Senator Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) Cincinnati office last week in light of signs he would support compromising the Clean Air Act to help big polluters in his home state.

Budget Update

The government is currently funded through March 18th via a short-term spending bill passed last week. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have two weeks to form a consensus before the government shuts down.

The Senate will consider a series of bills this week designed to refute the extreme spending bill passed by the House laced with anti-climate riders. The Senate bills are not expected to contain any flagrant attacks on climate policies or the Clean Air Act. Negotiations on the final Senate bill will set the stage for broader negotiations with the House and President Obama next week.

Key House Republican Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) said he would be willing to drop the series of anti-climate riders attacking the EPA in order to cut a deal with the Senate -- good news for the climate movement.

Climate News

Utah climate activist Tim DeCristopher was found guilty last week for intentionally bidding on an oil and gas lease to stop fossil fuel extraction and stand up to climate change. His trial has attracted high profile media attention and solidarity from throughout the movement.

The Lancet medical journal and the University College London (UCL) Institute for Global Health released a study declaring climate change "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century." Joe Romm from ClimateProgress says this represents "one of the most definitive statements to date on the current and future health impacts of global warming."

Oil Price Politics

Experts are predicting higher oil prices this summer in light of unrest in the Middle East, prompting leaders within the House GOP to push for more drilling in the U.S. despite analysis that expanded drilling would have a minimal effect on short-term gas prices.

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