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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Courtney speaks against EPA reversal of Clean Power Plan

October 10, 2017
Press Release

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) spoke on the House floor today to oppose EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision today to reverse the Clean Power Plan.

“The decision by Mr. Pruitt is not a pro-growth, pro-economic decision,” Courtney said on the floor. “It is simply responding, unfortunately, to political forces that drove this administration to power from the fossil fuel industry. The only saving grace of Mr. Pruitt's order is that he allows a large and long public comment period for the people of this country -- who do care about clean air and who do care about our environment -- to weigh in on this reckless decision that turns the clock back for public health and safety, and for our economy.”

Watch Courtney’s remarks here:

Click here to watch Courtney’s remarks

Below is an unofficial transcript of his remarks:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, going back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt, it has been a bipartisan principle that protecting the public health and America’s environment is a sacred obligation of all of us who have the honor to serve this nation in elected or appointed office.

Unfortunately, the Administrator of the EPA, Mr. Scott Pruitt, didn't get that memo. Because yesterday he announced that he is precipitously going to strike down the clean power plant rule sometime later today, which will turn the clock back in this country in terms of trying to get our arms around the issue of rising carbon emissions that scientist from across all sectors have universally recognized are causing rising sea temperature, rising sea levels, and that are affecting climate and clearly are linked to man-made carbon emission that is have been tracked for decades going back in time.

Mr. Pruitt's argument is based on the discredited view that carbon pollution does not fall under the clean air act, which is what the last administration was proceeding on when they actually designed the clean power plant rule. The facts are these. In 1963 this congress passed the clean air act. It was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson and been amended a number of times on a bipartisan basis to strengthen and enhance the protections that were built into that law when it was, again, enacted many years ago.

In fact, in 1990, George Herbert Walker Bush signed the last update and upgrade to the clean air act which is exactly what this administration, the prior administration was proceeding under when they designed the rule.

The Supreme Court has weighed in on this question about whether or not greenhouse gases are covered under the clean air act. In 2007, Massachusetts versus the EPA, the court, a republican majority court, ruled in favor of the fact that greenhouse gases are, in fact, covered under the statutory umbrella of the Clean Air Act.

This is what the court said. Because greenhouse gases fit well within the clean air act's definition of air of air pollutants, we hold that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gases.

In 2014, the court reinforced that ruling and a decision written by Antonin Scalia, the godfather of conservative lawyers all across this country, which reiterated the fact that greenhouse gases emit interested power plants are emitted from power plants are subject to the clean air act. Unfortunately, we see yesterday and today, the EPA Administrator is just completely striking down that important advance in terms of protecting the public health of this country and putting nothing in place. There is no alternative that Mr. Pruitt is putting out there in terms of trying to get this country to move forward on clean power. It's unfortunate because as the international energy agency announced this morning, that solar energy production for the first time ever now surpasses any other form of power production in the world. And the same thing is happening here in the US because of the renewable energy tax credits.

In my state of Connecticut, renewable energy solar panel jobs far exceed any other power production jobs in the state. We're seeing an incredible proliferation of people who are installing panels in their homes and businesses. The US Navy in Groton, Connecticut, has solar panels on every bit of navy housing and has solar field to power the nation's oldest submarine base in Groton, Connecticut.

The decision by Mr. Pruitt is not a pro-growth, pro-economic decision. It is simply responding, unfortunately, to political forces that drove this administration to power from the fossil fuel industry. The only saving grace of Mr. Pruitt's order is that he allows a large and long public comment period for the people of this country -- who do care about clean air and who do care about our environment -- to weigh in on this reckless decision that turns the clock back for public health and safety, and for our economy.

Because that's where the growth is going to be, is in renewables. Not power production of the past. It is not a war on coal. Coal production is not singled out in the clean power plant regulations. But what it does say is that any plant, whether it's coal or whether its natural gas or whether it's solar panels, you've got to address the question of carbon emissions. You don't get to produce that power and then leave a mess behind you.

And that is a very simple principle which I think every American can understand and unfortunately is about to be torpedoed by this administrator who, by the way, was in the courtroom trying to argue against the courts back in 2014 and came out on the losing decision. I guess he got his revenge, not just on the court but unfortunately for all of us who have to live with this terrible rule.

Mr. Speaker, again, let's reverse that decision. Let's move towards the future with the type of power which will protect the environment and grow jobs. I yield back the balance of my time.

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