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Upton: Don’t Dilute Energy and Commerce Clout

The voters have spoken, and they want a new Washington. Congressional Republicans have heard that message loud and clear: The Obama/Pelosi experiment has failed, and the American people want an end to their job-killing policies.

Republicans understand the people’s message, and we are ready to get to work. The votes of the Congress under Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) along with President Barack Obama’s unchecked regulations have forced businesses to ship jobs overseas and threaten to send energy prices sky-high.

It is no secret the administration has fallen asleep at the wheel in addressing the nation’s energy needs and has taken a regulatory path that kills jobs and will cause energy prices to skyrocket at a time when the nation’s families can least afford it.

The Energy and Commerce Committee has an important role as a check on warrantless federal regulations in many sectors, including our national energy plan. Without proper oversight, our economic freedom is at risk. The voters do not want to see inside-the-Beltway squabbles. They want us to cut the red tape, eliminate burdensome regulations and shine a spotlight on agencies that have been issuing regulations in the dark of night for far too long.

Today, some inquire: “Why does one House committee have such broad jurisdiction? Would it not make sense to break it up and give other committees a chance to share some of the responsibility in the energy debate?”

I would contend that such a move would benefit only Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and energy czar Carol Browner at a time when our new majority is well-positioned to chart a new course on energy. To diminish the authority of the Energy and Commerce Committee is to weaken the power of the House — the people’s body — and give an upper hand to the Democrat White House and Senate.

Recently, energy policy has merged with environmental policy. To separate “energy” jurisdiction from “environmental regulatory” jurisdiction is misguided. Today, most debates over energy are fought out in the environmental arena.

For example, is the climate debate an energy debate or an environmental debate? It is both, and our environmental policies have major ramifications for the types of energy we use, how we use them as well as their cost and availability.

The connection between energy and environment has an effect on a broad range of issues — from our national security to our industrial base and our overall economic health. Unfortunately, Jackson is acutely aware of this relationship, as evidenced by EPA’s war on coal and its pursuit of a back-door energy tax.

Jurisdiction over energy and environmental issues should remain as it is, intertwined and inseparable. It does not make sense to divide jurisdiction between committees. Doing so would risk more jurisdictional disputes, counterproductive policies and unintended consequences.

It is imperative to keep the energy and environment portfolio together, under the umbrella of the Energy and Commerce Committee, to ensure we can stop the administration from regulating what they could not legislate.

We all agree on an “all of the above” approach that levels the playing field, gets government out of the way and fortifies our energy needs, but splitting jurisdiction weakens our hand to fight the EPA and the White House.

The intersection between energy and environmental policy is complex and extremely important to get right. The Energy and Commerce Committee has thus far taken lead responsibility, and we are poised to bring the fight directly to the administration on behalf of the American people.

Now more than ever, the constitutional function of our committee is needed to stand up to the unaccountable czars and overreaching agency heads within the Obama administration. But when all is said and done, Republicans will put all of these small squabbles behind us and make the American people proud of what we accomplish.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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