BCA's Washington Briefing

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on youtube May 1, 2015



The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday voted to delay the Obama administration's landmark climate rule for power plants and let states opt out of compliance, The Hill reported.


H.R. 2042 is the House's first attempt to change the Environmental Protection Agency's unreasonable and overreaching climate rule it proposed last year. The committee voted 28-22 to send the bill to the full House.


The Ratepayer Protection Act reacts to concerns from states, utilities, experts, and other stakeholders about the EPA's rule that will dramatically increase energy rates and affect reliability. The bill would deny federal takeover of the nation's electric generating and distribution system, The Hill reported.


EPA chief Gina McCarthy say the EPA can force compliance plans on states that refuse.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the proposed EPA rule would destroy Kentucky's coal sector, which provides low-cost energy.


"How in the world do you intend to force my state to comply with a federal plan?" McConnell asked. "What are you going to require Kentucky to do?"

McCarthy said the EPA - a creation of Congress - has the legal authority to mandate the rule. "I believe that we are acting under the authority that Congress gave us under the Clean Air Act and we are going to be producing a rule that is going to withstand the test of time in the courts," she said.


U.S. Senate leaders said on Wednesday they will revive legislation that would crack down on "patent trolls." The legislation would correct a growing abuse of the legal system with "trolls" buying up patents solely to extort financial settlements from unwitting users.


A bi-partisan group of senators want to move the legislation fairly quickly. The proposal is similar to a House bill that could establish clear pleading standards in court and limit some early discovery, which would limit the cost of litigation. The bill also could include a provision on "fee shifting" that would make the losing party in a lawsuit pay the winner's legal fees.

The Senate proposal might contain a provision that would protect end-users, such as retailers, who are sometimes sued by patent holders for using a technology that they do not make. The provision would allow those companies to put off a lawsuit if the manufacturer is also hit with a lawsuit, according to the source.



Congress is taking steps to stop President Barack Obama's flawed plan to extend oppressive federal control over waterways to include even roadside ditches that may funnel water to a stream or ponds during heavy rains.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to oversee any pond or stream that has a "significant nexus" to a navigable waterway, even if the smaller body of water flows just a few weeks a year. It could mean permission would be needed to dig even a small ditch or build a road.


"The EPA continues to plunge ahead despite the outcry from a broad array of constituencies," said Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who heads the Agriculture Committee. "It needs to listen to us."


Republicans and Democrats are questioning the EPA's definition of what constitutes a "water of the U.S." Obama has threatened to veto any legislation that blocks the EPA's oversight.


The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this month approved H.R. 1732 by a vote of  36-22. U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, is a co-sponsor. The bill would force the EPA to withdraw its plan and consult state leaders before issuing a new version.


Opponents of federal overreach say the new rule could require federal approval to do anything like building a new home or installing a culvert, requiring years of expensive negotiations or legal fees to challenge a federal bureaucracy with unlimited legal resources.


The Business Council of Alabama's 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda says the BCA will oppose efforts to expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act that would allow federal agencies to regulate ditches, culverts and pipes, desert washes, sheet flow, erosional features, and farmland and treatment ponds as "waters of the United States," subjecting such waters to all of the requirements of the CWA.



U.S. Chamber Names Spirit of Enterprise Award Recipients

U.S. Chamber (Hackbarth 4/29) "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week released its annual How They Voted scorecard and recognized nearly 250 Members of Congress with the Spirit of Enterprise Award for their 2014 votes.


In Alabama the recipients were Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa; U.S. Reps. Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile; Martha Roby, R-Montgomery; Mike Rogers, R-Saks; Robert B. Aderholt, R-Haleyville, Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville; and, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Mountain Brook, who retired in January.


The rankings are based on votes on eight Senate pro-growth and pro-jobs policies and 14 House bills.


"For 50 years, through our How They Voted scorecard, the U.S. Chamber has been recognizing legislators from both sides of the aisle who have worked to pass legislation and enact policies that bolster our country's economy, create jobs and keep our nation's spirit of enterprise alive', U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said. 'The Spirit of Enterprise award honors those members of Congress who have recognized the need and shown a commitment to pro-growth policies in the second session of the 113th Congress'.

"Members who supported the Chamber's position on at least 70 percent of those votes qualify to receive the award. The subjects included terrorism risk insurance, tax extenders, the 'CRomnibus', ensuring free speech, transportation and infrastructure funding, and U.S. energy independence."

SEC Proposes to Link Top Executive Pay Reporting With Performance

The Hill (Schroeder 4/29) "The Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rules Wednesday that would require companies to connect top executive pay with its overall performance. The regulator agreed, by a vote of three to two, to propose a set of rules that would require companies to publicly disclose, in detail, how much money their top executives make. The agency's two Republican commissioners voted against the proposed rules.


"The so-called 'pay for performance' proposal is the latest in a long-running campaign from the SEC to address executive pay, driven in large part by a host of new requirements mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. A major criticism that emerged from the financial crisis was that top executives were receiving excessive pay, or pay structured in such a way as to encourage short-term risk-taking over long-term building.

"The new proposal would require companies to adopt a standardized form of disclosing executive pay and comparing it to company performance, including shareholder returns and a comparison to industry competitors. SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said Wednesday the rules would give investors better information, but emphasized she wanted public feedback on how best to hone the rules before they are finalized. That rule, heavily backed by labor unions, has stalled after being proposed back in 2013."

Energy Secretary Says We Have an Energy Transportation Problem; Keystone Pipeline can Help

U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Hackbarth 4/29) "The energy boom of the last decade that has boosted oil and gas production in the United States has outpaced the development of critical infrastructure to transport the raw and refined materials, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Thursday. 'These [transmission, storage, and distribution (TS&D)] infrastructures simply have not kept pace with changes in the volumes and geography of oil and gas production'.


"Industry has responded to the infrastructure gap by expanding pipeline capacity where it can; reversing flow direction on other pipelines; converting natural gas lines to oil; and seeking new 'workaround' solutions to transportation bottlenecks by moving increasing amounts of oil by truck, barge, and rail.


"An answer to some of the problems the QER lays out is the Keystone XL pipeline. Not only will it move Canadian crude oil, but also transport oil from North Dakota and Montana to Gulf Coast refineries. But it's been caught in a regulatory web spun by anti-energy activists. The pipeline is ready to be built, and based on the logic of the Energy Department and Secretary Moniz, it's very much needed. President Obama simply needs to end the years of delays and approve it."


US Chamber of Commerce   National Association of Manufacturers
Sixth District
 U. S. Rep. Gary Palmer