Ranking Member Waxman Questions Chairman Whitfield’s Partisan Clean Air Act Forums
Today Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman sent a letter to Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield to express disappointment in the Committee’s decision to move forward with partisan forums on the Clean Air Act. In the letter, Rep. Waxman states, “I particularly object to your refusal to hold forums on the single biggest clean air challenge our nation faces: climate change. You need to look no further than the corn fields wilting in Kentucky, the state you represent, to understand the magnitude of the threat posed by rising temperatures.”
The full text of the letter is below and is also available online here.
July 31, 2012
The Honorable Ed Whitfield
Subcommittee on Energy and Power
Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Whitfield:
I am writing regarding your plan to hold forums on how the Clean Air Act is performing and to gather ideas for improvements. I am disappointed by your decision to move forward with these forums on a partisan basis. Such an approach is unlikely to lead to legislative success.
When we met recently to discuss your proposal to hold Clean Air Act forums for Committee members, I expressed my interest in working with you to develop a bipartisan approach we could both support. We agreed that we would ask our staffs to work together to see if we could move forward to hold Clean Air Act forums on a bipartisan basis.
Unfortunately, you are now proceeding unilaterally with partisan forums on topics you have chosen and with witnesses you have selected. A bipartisan approach would necessarily require some kind of agreement on the topics to be covered in the forums, and we proposed either holding forums on mutually agreed-upon topics or alternating in selecting the topics. We suggested similar options for selecting participants in the forums. Both reasonable approaches were rejected.
I particularly object to your refusal to hold forums on the single biggest clean air challenge our nation faces: climate change. You need look no further than the corn fields wilting in Kentucky, the state you represent, to understand the magnitude of the threat posed by rising temperatures. Yet you continue to deny the science or even to acknowledge this imminent danger. Examining the Clean Air Act without considering climate change is like ignoring terrorism in a discussion of homeland security. It is an undertaking that makes the Committee look foolish.
Historically, clean air has been something that both parties support. The 1970 Clean Air Act, the 1977 Amendments to the Clean Air Act, and the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act were all adopted by overwhelming bipartisan majorities. This is not surprising given every American’s interest in breathing clean air. The repeated partisan assaults on the Clean Air Act by House Republicans in this Congress are unprecedented.
During my career in Congress, strengthening the Clean Air Act has been one of my highest priorities. It remains so today. I would welcome any credible, science-based effort to reexamine the Act and urge you to reconsider your partisan, science-denying approach.
Henry A. Waxman
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