Three Bills to Protect the Status Quo Instead of our Environment

Last week, instead of working on key legislative issues, such as addressing emergency funding for Zika or the opioids epidemic, the House considered three bills to protect the status quo and prevent future legislative attempts to protect the planet and our public health:

  1. H.R. 4775, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016;
  2. H.Con.Res.89, Expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States Economy;
  3. H.Con.Res.112, Expressing the sense of the Congress opposing the President’s proposed $10 tax on every barrel of oil.

These legislative proposals clearly demonstrate that the majority is stuck in the past and demonstrate a continued failure and unwillingness to work toward finding solutions. The ozone bill would undermine the EPA’s recent rule further limiting ground-level ozone emissions. Ozone is both the important layer of our stratosphere that protections us from radiation, as well as a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon. Exhaust and pollution can catalyze a reaction in our atmosphere that creates low-level ozone, which has a serious implications for not only on human health, but also on plants and crops. The attempt by the majority to undermine the EPA’s regulation of ozone, which they are authorized to regulate under the Clean Air Act, is demonstrative of a continued failure to acknowledge the dangers of atmospheric pollution and global warming.

Similarly, the effort to undermine the possibility of ever considering a carbon-tax is yet another misguided effort from climate-deniers in the Republican Caucus to halt actions to protect our planet. No legislation has been considered by the Administration or the Congress that would propose a carbon tax, yet recent momentum around the idea has prompted Rep. Steve Scalise to push forward this bill to preempt any movement around this idea.

Finally, the legislation preventing the tax on oil for the purpose of funding transportation infrastructure projects is just as backward looking as the other two bills. The United States invests less in transportation infrastructure than nearly all developed countries and many underdeveloped countries around the world. The President’s proposed tax would generate more than $32 billion annually to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and promote a greener transportation sector. At a time when oil prices are at nearly record lows, we need to incentivize the private sector to reduce our reliance on oil and reinvest in our roads, railroads, and bridges.

It is important to know that while these bills passed the House, several members of the Republican party should be recognized for voting against the legislation that would undermine the EPA’s ozone rule. While I hoped that these same members would join with Democrats in voting against the other two resolutions, I am proud to stand by my friends across the aisle who are continuing their work to change their party’s misguided stance on environmental issues.