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Skelton says House energy bill better protects rural Missourians from EPA
Skelton says House energy bill better protects rural Missourians from EPA

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 5, 2009) — On June 26, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, by a vote of 219 to 212. H.R. 2454 is a comprehensive energy reform bill designed to better safeguard the interests of rural America from the jurisdiction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while also helping to reduce harmful air pollution, to set our country on a path to energy independence, and to create new jobs. I voted to move this legislation to the Senate, which will ensure rural America has a seat at the table when it comes to the government’s efforts to reduce air pollution.

After this legislation was introduced, the House Agriculture Committee and the CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Glenn English, persuaded House leaders to include more protections for rural electric cooperatives and American farmers. Because of this, I became convinced that the right thing to do would be to pass H.R. 2454.

Without Congressional guidance, the EPA has made clear its intent to regulate air pollution in a way that could be particularly devastating to rural Missouri — to farms, to rural electric cooperatives, to other utilities, and to factories. I have heard repeatedly from Missouri farmers and from farm organizations about how terrible it would be for the EPA to regulate so-called “greenhouse gases” on farms. Like them, I am convinced that an EPA, with free reign over agricultural and livestock emissions, would not be in the best interest of rural America. That is why I am pleased that H.R. 2454 would exempt farms from the bill’s proposed regulatory framework and would put in place a number of policies sought by and supported by the agricultural community.

My vote to move H.R. 2454 to the Senate does not give my blessing to any final bill on air pollution regulation that might be presented to Congress later this year or next year. I will reserve judgment on a final bill until it has been produced. My vote was, however, a vote to ensure I can continue working with other Midwestern and rural colleagues to strengthen the measure for farmers, for rural electric cooperatives, for utility consumers, and for business owners.

In the days ahead, as we continue to discuss energy policy and its affect on rural America, we will be wise to remember that energy reform is not just a matter of regulating air pollution; it is also a matter of national security. In recent years, former top military commanders and the Pentagon have taken a hard look at how climate change could have an impact on global security and stability. There are real national and global security implications when lakes go dry and when oceans rise. As chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, this aspect of climate change worries me.

At the end of the day, I hope the Congress will come together in a bipartisan way to enact an energy bill that would more reasonably guide EPA through the process of regulating air pollution, that would help break America’s dependence upon foreign energy, and would make further commitments to domestic energy production. That outcome would be in the best interest of Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District, our state, and our nation.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at http://www.house.gov/skelton.

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