Rep. Burgess: EPA Exceeds Its Power on Greenhouse Gases

Monday, 24 Feb 2014 03:43 PM

By Lisa Barron

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The Obama administration is overstepping its authority when it comes to regulating greenhouse gas emissions, says Republican Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Burgess, who has represented Texas' 26th Congressional District since 2002, was speaking to Newsmax TV's John Bachman on Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court took on a challenge to an Environmental Protection Agency program aimed at limiting power plant and factory emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases.

The case follows a 2007 high court ruling that the EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

"What the Supreme Court told the EPA in 2007 was that they needed to make a decision based on science. Now the court case that's going today becomes a little more technical, and the question is, does the EPA now have to reveal the science upon which it made the decision. This has been an ongoing fight really since the very first days of the Obama administration," Burgess said on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum."

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In 2009, with Obama in the Oval Office, the EPA decided to extend its regulatory reach for electrical plants, and now the administration has proposed national standards for new power plants and is expected to propose regulations for existing plants this summer.

If the EPA is successful, Burgess warned, prices will skyrocket.

"Bear in mind, at the very early days of the Obama administration, in our committee, the [House] Energy and Commerce Committee, we had hearings and then ultimately a markup on a bill that was called Waxman-Markey. This was the climate-change bill that the Democrats so desperately wanted to pass in the early days of President Obama's first term," he said.

"It did pass the House on a fairly narrow margin; the Senate lost their nerve and never took it up because they saw how desperately unpopular it was, and the reason it was unpopular was because of the cost it was going to impose on just average, everyday consumers. You want to talk about a war on the middle class? You double or triple electricity rates in Texas in the summer and see if the middle class doesn't feel it."

Asked what Congress can do to make sure these new regulations don't go into effect, Burgess responded, "In spite of the president's assertion to the contrary, the legislative branch actually does still have the power of legislating, and these regulations have come about through rule-making, through authority that the EPA has assumed that it has."

"We could remove that assumption of authority, we could in fact legislate that the EPA, the authority that the EPA has is much more narrow and much more tailored because, let's be honest, if they are successful, there is no product, there is no service that is beyond the scope of the EPA interfering in that business because each of us produces half a ton of carbon dioxide. That's each and every individual human produces half a ton of carbon dioxide every year," Burgess said.

"So, the EPA could literally regulate us throughout the course of just what we do during the day, how much we talked for example," Burgess said.

Burgess, who was a practicing physician before his election, has also been involved in the debate over healthcare reform.

He said he still thinks Republicans should continue to challenge Obamacare.

"The administration, they don't know how to implement what they passed. Witness the fact that, yeah, Republicans have taken away seven pieces of Obamacare, but the president himself has set aside some 25 or 30 parts of the Affordable Care Act on his own," Burgess noted.

"The problem is that just the implementation of what is already written is nigh impossible. So, will there be changes going forward? You bet there will. Will some of them be hard on states or individuals? I don't know. The goal should be, from all of us on the legislating side, that we try to minimize the impact, the deleterious impact, it's going to have on people," he said.

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