The House Energy and Commerce Committee continued its ongoing debate and discussion about the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454). The act would cut greenhouse emissions by 17 percent over the next 11 years and by 83 percent by midcentury in an attempt to slow manmade climate change.
In an interesting turn of events during the debate yesterday, Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) issued a warning saying, “we’re setting up a global warming Gestapo.” The comment was made in reference to Section 201 of the act which establishes a national building code. Under that code, the Secretary of Energy would have the power to assess civil penalties for buildings that do not meet the new code.
Scalise described a situation where a home that was destroyed by a natural disaster was rebuilt but with superior material than were dictated by the new national building code. According to Scalise, the homeowner would be in violation of federal law, even if the material exceeded the federal standard.
Now living in your home is considered unlawful under this bill.
~ Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)
"The federal government can come in and inspect your house and send you the bill. And if they find that you’re out of compliance with this new federal code, 'The Secretary shall assess a civil penalty for violations of this section,'" Scalise said. "Now living in your home is considered unlawful under this bill. This is ludicrous."
Taking his argument a step further, Scalise called into question the very constitutionality of the measure. He reminded his fellow congressmen that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to states respectively or to the people.”
This bill comes in and basically says throw out the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
~ Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)
By creating its own enforcement measures and own building code that will usurp those which states have already established, the act stands to violate the Constitution. Scalise said, "This bill comes in and basically says throw out the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the federal government’s gonna throw out your building code."
Section 201 of the measure is being opposed by the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors, the Building Owners and Managers Association International, the National Apartment Association as well as a number of other related organizations. They warn that the new authority the federal government grants themselves could make homeowners liable for their homes not meeting the new standards. The chilling effect of this is that the ‘global warming Gestapo’ Rep. Scalise warns about could drag you into federal court.