Rep. Charles Bass (R-NH) attempted to moderate the roll back of the Clean Air Act (the new source review provisions), but failed by a 16-25 vote in the Barton committee.
Bass pointed out repeatedly that the Barton legislation – sought by the Bush administration -- was a “relaxation” of the Clean Air Act. “We cannot condone an overall relaxation of the law,” he said. His amendment would have limited the relaxation to refineries and compressing stations. It also could have sunset at some future time if refinery capacity expanded. (In other words, the relaxed requirements would not have applied to coal-fired electric power plants under what Bass called a “compromise.”)
Bass lost after most of the panel’s Republicans agreed with chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), who declared “This is a great opportunity to get rid of” new source review. So motivations are becoming clear.
Earlier today, Barton disclosed that this relaxation of the Clean Air Act was actually submitted by the Bush administration – indeed, that it was the “primary request” by the administration in the refinery bill.
Barton declared he intends to complete action on the legislation this evening.
Though the indictment of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and the subsequent shakeup in the House will eclipse these activities in the news, there have still been remarkable developments today in this panel:
The Barton committee is on track to report out legislation that will severely weaken the Clean Air Act under the guise of providing hurricane-related relief. And the Bush administration is now officially promoting legislation that would undermine its own Justice Department and pending enforcement cases against big polluters.
As a result of Bass’ defeat, this will not be a moderately dirty-air bill. This is real dirty-air legislation. And the Bush administration is promoting it.