H.R. 2279 and Amodei’s Arithmetic

Amodei pollutionRepresentative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) is delighted to tell us how much he values Freedom and Limited Government — unless, of course, the legislation in question would benefit the Big Corporations and their deregulation agenda.  We are also given to know how he’s all in to protect the Little Guy, the average Joe, the Great American Taxpayer — unless, of course, the legislation in question would lift the burden from the shoulders of corporate America and place it squarely on the backs of The Little Guys, those Great American Taxpayers.  Witness: The Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act. While the citizens of West Virginia were trying to figure out whether or not to stock up on yet more bottled water, the Congress of the United States of America passed this highly dubious act for the benefit of major corporations, “that will greatly reduce the EPA’s ability to monitor environmental and health violations, leaving that responsibility to the states, many of which are constrained in their ability by tight budgets.” [Contributor]

“The three separate pieces of legislation included in the packet (combined in the bill)  were proposed by Republican representatives Cory Gardner of Colorado and Bob Latta and Bill Johnson of Ohio.  Altogether, the three Republicans have received more than $1,190,000 from the dirty energy industry.”  [Contributor]

Whether or not one wishes to refer to the energy lobby as “dirty,” the fact remains that the letters of support for the enaction of H.R. 2279 the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act, represent a Who’s Who of the energy and chemical industries:  the American Chemistry Council, the American Coke and Coal Chemical Institute, the American Iron and Steel Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Mining Association, the American Exploration and Mining Association, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates,  the Fertilizer Institute, and the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group.  [EC House] So, what did these industry lobby groups get for their efforts?  A bill that would “… require the President to consult with states before enforcing federal environmental law. The measure also would prohibit the EPA from imposing overlapping regulations on states that have rules on solid waste disposal and require all federally owned facilities to comply with state requirements on hazardous substances.” [AllAg] Actually, there was more than merely turning the current environmental regulations upside down, leaving the states to literally clean up messes created by industrial waste disposal and accidental emissions.  There was the matter of who would PAY for the clean up of toxic or unsanitary conditions created by waste disposal and hazardous contamination.   Here’s the gory part:

“No owner or operator of a vessel or facility who establishes  and maintains evidence of financial responsibility associated with the production, transportation, treatment, storage, or disposal of  hazardous substances pursuant to financial responsibility requirements  under any State law or regulation, or any other Federal law or regulation, shall be required to establish or maintain evidence of financial responsibility under this title, unless the President determines, after notice and opportunity for public comment, that in the event of a release of a hazardous substance that is not a federally permitted release or authorized by a State permit, such other Federal or State financial responsibility requirements are insufficient to cover likely response costs under section 104. If the President  determines that such other Federal or State financial responsibility  requirements are insufficient to cover likely response costs under  section 104 in the event of such a release, the President shall accept  evidence of compliance with such other Federal or State financial responsibility requirements in lieu of compliance with any portion of the financial responsibility requirements promulgated under this title to which they correspond.”  [GPO]

Translation:  We’re going to junk the long-standing requirements that those who caused the pollution in the first place are responsible for paying to clean up behind themselves by by allowing “insufficient existing requirements to block Superfund obligations,” and as a result saddle state and local governments with the clean up costs. Representative Amodei certainly sat on a rickety fence in regard to H.R. 2279.  Either he wanted to protect the average Nevada taxpayer from the obligation to finance the clean up after an industrial or mining pollution event — or — he wanted to protect the industry from having to pay to clean up after itself, and dump the financial obligations on the state and counties.  He opted for protecting the Big Industries.   Thus the next time Representative Amodei speaks of “burdensome” rates of taxation, and talks of removing that burden from the backs of the tax paying public, the appropriate response could easily be — What about your vote on  H.R. 2279?

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