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Fun Facts About the House Energy Bill

10:53 AM, Aug 29, 2007 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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One of the key issues that Congress will need to address when it returns in September is legislation to restrict energy production in the U.S. It's not framed that way, of course. The legislation being considered is ostensibly supposed to help produce more energy, but that's not the effect it will have.

Among the myriad problems with the House bill for example, is that it allows anyone 'harmed' by global warming to bring suit against any federal agency that fails to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as required in the legislation. Plaintiffs are specifically authorized to recover $1.5 million, and to be compensated for legal fees win or lose, as long as the court determines it to be 'appropriate.'

During debate on the legislation in the House, Congressman Darrel Issa described the provision like this:

Mr. Chairman, this piece of legislation is a license for an unlimited amount of suits against the government by the extreme environmental groups. In fact, this bill pays a $75,000 bounty on top of unlimited legal fees to anyone who sues the government even if, in fact, that suit is based on this body's failure to act. Yes. Lawyers will be telling us, by suing us, that we must do more, and there will be no controls. They can sue in all 92 locations around the country. They can sue for any reason. We will have to pay the bill. When they lose, too bad. When they win, they get paid for taking from us not only 100 percent of their legal fees but $75,000 on top of that.

This is a license for America to be held hostage by the trial lawyers. It was deliberate. It was slipped through the committee. They said it was going to be fixed. In fact, nothing has been fixed; and we have been prevented from having an amendment on the House floor. This is undemocratic, and the Democrats know it.

The Heritage Foundation's Ben Lieberman has written a short paper on the problems with the House and Senate energy legislation, and he manages to fill the paper with problems bigger than this--a sure indication of just how much harm these bills might do, if enacted.