Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 10.9.15

Stetson and Barter System

In 2009, President Obama’s idea of a cap and trade carbon dioxide (C02) emissions policy passed the House, but failed to pass the Senate.  The legislation never became law, and Congress heard public opinion loud and clear in the next elections.  In 2010, new members were elected in historic numbers, and many members who voted for the cap and trade scheme lost their seats.

Soon after, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to develop a regulatory program requiring states to create emissions plans, circumventing the legislative process.

(I don’t believe they have legal authority for such a plan under the Clean Air Act’s Section 111(d).  See “Burning the Constitution,” my column of March 23, 2015.)

As a member who won a seat in Congress in part for my opposition to cap and trade, I was pleased to hear, only two months into my service, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson state, “There is no cap and trade scheme provided for under the Clean Air Act” in response to Rep. Steve Scalise during a February 9, 2011 hearing.  She continued, “Sir, what I do know is that we are not planning any cap and trade regulations or standards.”

I was also pleased to read several letters from current EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy ratifying that there would be no cap and trade scheme. (August 3, 2011, May 13, 2013, and March 2014)*

On August 3, 2015, however, the EPA came out with their “Proposed Federal Plan for the Clean Power Plan” contrary to assurances to Congress the people’s will would be heard, and the EPA would not, through regulation, propose a back door cap and trade policy.   In the plan, EPA has proposed “model trading rules” for the states.  Their model trading rules are found in various parts of the plan and one example on pages 42 and 43 of the Summary is:

“The EPA strongly encourages states to consider adopting one of the model trading rules, which are designed to be referenced by states in their rulemakings.  Use of the model trading rules by states would help to ensure consistency between and among the state programs, which is useful for the potential operation of a broad trading program that spans multi-state regions or operates on a national scale.”

In my opinion, the EPA’s “model trading rules” are clearly designed to increase the likelihood of regional or national CO2 emissions trading programs, in other words- cap and trade.

On October 7, 2015, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing with Janet McCabe, the EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, about the new proposed regulations.  Since the EPA encourages states to pursue emissions trading programs to meet the EPA’s regulatory CO2 mandatory goals, I challenged McCabe to confirm that if the states do not meet mandates, will the EPA come in and implement a federal “trading plan.”  I asked for a simple yes or no answer.  McCabe refused.

She began playing word games, like my young boys do.  It was as if she had been instructed before coming to the hearing to deny their plan was a form of cap and trade.

She did this notwithstanding the plan is clearly, in my opinion, trying to push the various states into multi-state regions or a national cap and trade scheme.

She first claimed she could not answer my question, because the rule was only a proposed rule in draft form.  So I clarified: under the proposed rule as drafted, if the states do not comply, will the EPA force a cap and trade program?

Ms. McCabe responded, “EPA has proposed trading programs, a rate-based emission one or a mass-based emission one.”

This does not constitute a yes or no answer, but I believe based on their plan and her statements, it’s clear the goal of the EPA regulations is to impose a back door national cap and trade scheme.

If you limit emissions, you are “capping”.  If you also set up a “trading program”, then I cannot comprehend how you are not setting up a cap and trade scheme.  I believe the EPA is just refusing to call it cap and trade because that scheme has been so discredited in the minds of the American public.

I believe Ms. McCabe’s attitude is a reflection of the EPA’s policy to call it anything but cap and trade.

But whether or not they call it cap and trade or Stetson and Barter, it’s still the same thing.

Or put another way, a skunk by any other name still smells the same.

Welcome to Washington, where bureaucrats use a word swap to cover their attempts to circumvent Congress and force their overreaching regulations onto an unwilling American people.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at  Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.



*Letters referenced above:

I. “Administrator Jackson and Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy have stated publicly the agency has no intention of pursuing a cap-and-trade program for GHGs under the Clean Air Act. The agency reaffirms those statements here.”
– August 3, 2011 letter from then-Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy to Chairman Fred Upton. Answer to Question 14.


II. “Both former Administrator Jackson and I have said in the past that the EPA has no intention of pursuing a cap and trade program for greenhouse gases and I continue to stand by those statements.”
–May 15, 2013 letter to Chairman Fred Upton from then-Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy. Answer to Question 1.

III. “[The Clean Power Plan] is not a cap and trade program. It’s not going to be designed like a cap and trade program …This is not an opportunity for us to impose a cap. That’s not what it looks like."
– Administrator Gina McCarthy in response to Senator Heitkamp at a March 2014 panel. 0:25 in the video.

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