'A Glorious Mess'

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Exec. Editor

Richard Johnstone

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 American citizens.

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 rates.

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. 


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