House energy legislation would undermine parts of Clean Air Act

You just can’t keep a bad bill down. Provisions cut from the energy bill that was passed this summer have lurched back to life; they now stumble forward under the banner of the Gasoline for America’s Security (GAS) Act, due for a House vote today. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the legislation’s sponsor, says the act will help curb spiking gas prices and ease post-hurricane energy bottlenecks by giving companies incentives to build more refineries — “without messing with any environmental laws.” But not everyone agrees. In a letter to House leaders on Thursday, nine state attorneys general called the bill “a major setback for air quality across the nation” that “permanently eviscerates key protections of the Clean Air Act” in relation to refineries and power plants. The legislation would also allow new refineries to be sited in national forests and wildlife refuges. Although passage is likely in the House, the act’s chances in the Senate are currently considered dim.