Members of Congress argued Monday afternoon for an amendment that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases, a key priority for the agency under administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
At a markup hearing for the Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican members said repealing the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases would bolster the economy. What they didn't mention was that the policy would also benefit the energy and natural resources sector, which makes up more than $3 million, or about 15 percent, of the collective contributions received by the 31 Republicans on the committee last year.
"This bill says 'stop' to an EPA attempting to impose policies we cannot afford that will destroy jobs we cannot afford to lose," said Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, who proposed the bill.
House Rep. Steve Pearce rode a wave of national resentment and money from oil and gas companies to regain an office he vacated in 2008.
Now he's back, and he brought with him a former Washington insider and lobbyist who sought to roll back environmental legislation well before it was the hot new thing to do.
The GOP-controlled House just last week passed a budget that would, among other things, greatly limit the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gases.
And recently, Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) each introduced legislation that would tie the federal government's hands when it comes to carbon pollution, while Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced a companion bill shortly thereafter.
Perhaps it should be no surprise then that all three — Inhofe, Barrasso and Upton — received a large chunk of their campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry.
The Sierra Club, the oldest and largest grassroots environmental group in the United States, has launched a social media campaign targeting Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the nation according to a 2010 Forbes ranking.
In an effort to increase public awareness of what it alleges are environmental transgressions by the industrial giant, the organization has called on its 1.4 million members to take to social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook to express their sentiments and "dislike" Koch Industries.
"The Kochs have a lot of money, which they are using to try and buy our government and undermine common sense protection of clean air and water," said Rachele Huennekens, a Grassroots Media Coordinator for the Sierra Club. "We can't match them in terms of resources, so we have to turn to the passion of our supporters."