Rockefeller says McConnell-Inhofe EPA bill “theological” and “immature,” can’t pass

Ed Morrissey

The battle over an amendment to essentially strip the EPA of regulatory authority it arrogated to itself over the last two years deepened today when Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) blasted Republicans for abandoning his temporary measure. Speaking from the Senate floor, Rockefeller angrily called the McConnell-Inhofe bill “theological,” “immature,” and warned that it had no chance of passage at all. The full transcript [is at], but here is the key portion:

I cannot tell you how strongly opposed I am to the McConnell-Inhofe amendment, not only because it goes too far, not only because it eviscerates EPA from some fundamental responsibilities it has–for example, CAFE standards–but it has absolutely no chance whatsoever of becoming law–none. Mine does. Theirs does not.

Do we think we are going to pass, and the President is going to sign, something that eliminates EPA forever? Oh, they will say: Well, we can always change that in a couple years. No, it is not that. It is a theological decision to pick out a campaign issue for 2012, and that is fine because that is the way things go. But to destroy the EPA permanently is an act I have not seen since I came here.

There will be people in many States, including my own, who think that is a wonderful idea, but I would ask them to think more deeply.

The McConnell-Inhofe amendment makes a point, but it doesn’t solve a problem. I am here to solve problems. So is the Presiding Officer. The amendment would take away EPA’s ability to address greenhouse gas emissions forever. It doesn’t make any difference what happens 5 years, 10 years from now–all the nuances that have to be made in policy or in regulation; if the air starts cleaning up, maybe things can lighten up a little bit; if it doesn’t clean up, maybe we have to do something. But they want to take away and put out of business forever the EPA , which looks out for the health and the safety of everyone who lives here, and it would be permanently banned from doing its job. Is this an adult amendment? It can’t be.

People must only be looking at the next election, or they must be afraid. To be afraid of voters is not a good thing. That is a quick way to lose. Telling the voters the truth–the Presiding Officer is pretty good at this–is what is more important in public policy. So they burn EPA forever. They can’t do anything, no matter what we know or what we learn in the future about greenhouse emissions. They want the total elimination of EPA’s role, with no other structure in place. Having nothing in place is irresponsible, unrealistic, and immature.

What we need is a timeout to stop the imposition of EPA regulations–regulations that don’t allow for the development of clean technologies, and that would hurt the economy at a critical time in our recovery, but to do it in a way that keeps us all focused and working on a long-term energy policy which doesn’t say close down. We should have a pause here, the pause that hopefully refreshes our ability to do clean energy policy. My bill would be effective from the date of its passage, were it to pass, so it would be 2 years. That is plenty of time to be able to come up with an energy policy. We have avoided doing that for so long now, and I think a lot of that is politics, and it is very sad.

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