As the Gulf braces for Hurricane Rita, key lawmakers in the House of Representatives are said to be scrambling to rush through new legislation that could weaken clean-air protections in various ways.
No text is yet available, but there is word that the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), will hold a markup [legislative drafting session] next week of an energy bill nominally related to Katrina. Apparently there will be no prior hearing.
This legislation will be part of what is becoming a ferocious assault on clean air and other protections.
The proposed legislation reportedly will include some major clean-air provisions including:
Ideas to limit opposition to new refineries
A plan to limit the number of “boutique” fuels [Rep. Bob Ney R-OH] has already introduced something of this sort – a scheme that would mean more smog and toxic air pollution in much of the nation
Revisions to new source review (perhaps an effort to codify the EPA revisions that are being challenged in court) and
The Barton provisions – rejected by the Senate in the last energy bill – that would permit states to postpone deadlines for meeting smog standards.
When you add on the Inhofe plan and the draft EPA-written legislation [see details at http://www.democrats.reform.house.gov/story.asp?ID=928] – reported first last Friday by Elizabeth Shogren of National Public Radio – that would permit unlimited waivers of major environmental requirements in response to all sorts of situations – it’s fair to say that our clean air standards are really coming under siege.