Minnesota congressman says he has the votes to block climate bill

Rep. Collin Peterson
Minnesota 7th District Congressman Collin Peterson chairs the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.
MPR Photo/Dan Gunderson

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson said he has the votes to block fast-track climate change legislation working its way through Congress.

Peterson has been an outspoken critic of the American Climate and Energy Security Act, which the House Energy and Commerce committee approved in late May after four days of debate.

He told Minnesota Public Radio's Morning Edition the bill will threaten the country's efforts to become energy-independent.

"The problem I have is, you're trying to mix two things here," Peterson said. "There's been a lot of effort and money put into developing other sources of energy in the U.S., and now we're coming along and we're adding into the equation, climate change."

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The bill's approval last month increases the likelihood that the full House for the first time will address broad legislation to tackle climate change later this year. The Senate has yet to take up the issue. If passed, the bill would impose the first nationwide limits on pollution blamed for global warming.

Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture committee, objects to a requirement that corn-based biofuels must account for the effects of raising more corn around the world to fill food needs.

"They're charging us with these indirect things, but they're not charging oil, and all of the carbon that's being emitted by the military protecting the oil lanes in the Mideast and so forth," Peterson said. "It's a pretty naked attempt to go after corn ethanol, I think."

Peterson, a Democrat from Minnesota's 7th District, said the federal rule on indirect effects could kill off the ethanol industry in the U.S.

DFL Rep. Tim Walz has also said he supports Peterson's efforts to roll back the federal rule.

Minnesota's ethanol industry employs more than 1,000 workers and buys more than $1 billion worth of corn each year.