House passes amendment blocking carbon tax without congressional approval

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

The House of Representatives has passed an amendment to the REINS Act that would prevent the Obama administration from imposing a carbon tax without congressional approval.

The amendment introduced by Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise passed 237 to 176, garnering support from 12 Democrats and no opposition among Republicans.

“President Obama’s plan to impose a tax on carbon would cause household electricity rates to skyrocket while destroying millions of American jobs,” Scalise said. “The Obama Administration has used every trick in the book to implement its radical agenda through back door regulations.”

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, a strong supporter of the Scalise amendment, noted that it prevents the president and the Environmental Protection Agency from bypassing Congress and imposing a national energy tax that would affect every American.

“Struggling Americans who have been unable to find a job or have not seen their paychecks grow would be hit with this national energy tax every time they pay their utility bills or fill up their gas tanks or go to the grocery store,” said Camp, a Michigan Republican.

The REINS Act would require congressional approval for any major federal regulation. The Scalise amendment, however, would broaden that to include “any rule that implements or provides for the imposition or collection of a tax on carbon emissions.”

This is the second major move the GOP has made this week to stymie the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. On Thursday, the House passed an amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from using the “social cost of carbon” rule to justify new regulations without congressional approval.

Obama has already promised to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, largely by capping emissions from coal-fired power plants. The EPA will be issuing emissions limits for new power plants in the coming months and standards for existing plants next year.

“The EPA’s policies have real-world consequences,” said Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, who introduced the amendment. “Poverty leads to devastated communities, early death, and lost dreams for a generation of Americans and their children.”

Recently, FirstEnergy Corp. decided to shut down two Pennsylvania coal plants rather than paying $275 million to bring them into compliance with EPA rules. This is happening to coal plants around the country.

According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, more than 280 coal-fired generators will be shut down in the coming years due in part to EPA regulations.

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration is implementing a number of regulations to raise energy costs. A strong vote for the Scalise anti-carbon tax amendment should be just the first step in the House’s efforts to block and de-fund President Obama’s radical climate agenda,” said Myron Ebell, president of Freedom Action.

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