May 19, 2009

“The day I have dreaded has arrived,”

FROM-St. Louis Post Dispatch

Shimkus: Climate change bill an attack on ‘rural poor’

WASHINGTON — In the first day of what will be House Republicans last chance to fight a controversial climate change bill before it hits the floor, Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, came out swinging.

The Waxman-Markey energy bill, which would impose a cap on carbon emissions and set up a pollution-credit trading system, is an attack on poor communities that rely on cheap, coal-fired electricity, Shimkus said.

“The day I have dreaded has arrived,” Shimkus said in his opening statement of the House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting this afternoon. “Why is it that the wealthy parts of our country continue to attack the lifestyles of the rural poor?”

Shimkus was alluding to the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who both represent states that have higher energy costs and consume far less coal than Missouri and Illinois.

Shimkus said House Republicans were pleased they had been able to delay the markup of the bill for three weeks. Still, he expects it to pass the committee by the end of the week and then the question becomes what further concessions can Republicans draw from Democratic supporters.

Even with both sides expecting some sort of resolution before the Memorial Day recess, the week’s debates could drag on. Shimkus said he expected every Republican on the committee to offer amendments on everything from how pollution credits are allotted to the role of international polluters like China and India. One Democratic congressman said he had heard reports of 400 GOP-sponsored amendments to be introduced this week.

House Republicans have drawn criticism for opposing energy reform without bringing forth effective solutions and some, including Shimkus, have said they would never vote in support of carbon regulations.

But GOP leaders have countered by criticizing the speed the bill has been pushed through the legislative process, claiming the bill’s creation has been anything but transparent.

The current version of the bill was introduced Friday and a 900-plus page amendment to it was introduced an hour before the committee meeting started this afternoon, Shimkus said.

“If it’s really a good bill, let us read it over the week,” Shimkus said, implying that Democrats should slow things down.


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