Congressman John Dingell of Michigan knows a thing or two
about the legislative process. First elected in 1955, today this Democratic
marvel reigns as the dean of the House of Representatives, having served
longer than any other member in the 221-year history of the lower chamber.
So when he speaks, folks from all points on the political spectrum generally
listen. And when he speaks about laws that he helped write, such as the
Clean Air Act, then interested parties are, or should be, riveted to his
words, and with good reason.
Congressman Dingell has said that using this very same
Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases would result in “a glorious
mess.” And yet just such regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air
Act is precisely what the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
seems intent on pursuing. If the EPA continues on this path, your electric
rates will almost certainly go up, unnecessarily, by an unknown amount, and
with little recourse for average citizens like you and me.
What, then, is the answer? Simply, having Congress do the
job its members are elected to do, which is to set policies that federal
agencies then carry out. Members of Congress are directly accountable to the
people for their actions; regulators at federal agencies are not. And this
is why Congress should take responsibility for dealing with the issue of
greenhouse gases and their impact on climate, and do so in a way that
protects both the environment and, just as importantly, the pocketbooks of
Members of Congress should establish the policies — the
“rules of the road” if you will —as to whether, how, when, and by how much
to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide, from sources such
as power plants. Federal agencies like the EPA are then supposed to
implement those policies. But that’s not what’s happening here, which is not
only wrong on principle, but will also be expensive for electric ratepayers.
All of which is why we’re asking you to please fill out
and mail in the three postcards included between pages 16 and 17 of this
month’s issue. Postage is prepaid. It will take you only a minute or two to
fill out your name and address, and sign each card. The cards for Virginia’s
U.S. senators, Jim Webb and Mark Warner, already contain the salutation
line. For the third postcard, please use the state map behind the postcards
to identify — or confirm — who serves as your House of Representatives
member, and then please write his name in the “Dear Representative” line
near the top of this third postcard.
We greatly respect your time, and we’ve tried hard to make
your participation in this effort as easy as possible. The three enclosed
postcards are pre-addressed to your national electric cooperative
association in Arlington; once there, they will then be hand-delivered to
Senators Webb and Warner, and to your House member. By taking part, you’ll
send a strong message to stop the EPA from using the Clean Air Act in a way
that Congress never intended, and in a way that increases your electric
If you’d like more information on this issue, be sure to
visit the Web site for this campaign that’s being carried out by electric
cooperatives across the country, called “Our Energy, Our Future”; the
address is www.ourenergy.coop. Remember, as utilities owned by our
consumers, electric cooperatives want to make sure that any climate-change
legislation that Congress passes is FAIR, AFFORDABLE and ACHIEVABLE.
And, now, back to Congressman Dingell’s quote at the
outset. While he’s famous for being quite a political prognosticator, in
this case we believe that he’s only half-right. Having the EPA use the Clean
Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases would absolutely be a mess.
But glorious? Anything but.