Legislation that would bar the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases will be introduced as early as today by Republicans in Congress with the support of some Democrats.
Matching bills by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, both Republicans, would bar the EPA from mandating emission limits from factories and power plants, while allowing a previous agreement the Obama administration reached with automakers to cut vehicle tailpipe emissions.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, whose agency began on Jan. 2 to regulate gases blamed for contributing to climate change, has said President Barack Obama would veto any attempt to stop the rules. Critics say the regulations will harm the economy and the matter should be handled by Congress.
“This bill puts Congress in charge of deciding our nation’s climate-change policy, not EPA bureaucrats,” Inhofe, who has called the idea of man-made climate change a hoax, said yesterday during a Senate hearing on the EPA’s budget.
Plans to introduce the House and Senate EPA bills as soon as today were confirmed by Inhofe and Representative Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, chairman of the House Energy and Power subcommittee.
Among Democrats, Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota said he will support the EPA measure, and Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia said he probably will do so.
“EPA is out of control, and we have to send them a message,” Peterson, who headed the Agriculture Committee until Republicans won control of the House in the November elections, said in an interview yesterday.
Rahall, former chairman of the House Natural Resources panel, said a draft of the bill was “very favorable” and that he is “exploring very seriously” supporting the measure.
“It seems like the right message and it’s in line with legislation I’ve already supported,” Rahall said. He has backed a bill to delay EPA regulation for two years, legislation being pushed by Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.
Rockefeller’s bill probably has a better chance to pass Congress, given concerns in the Senate over permanently blocking EPA regulation, Rahall said in an interview.
The chief of one utility said he is worried Congress will take away EPA’s power and then do nothing. Legislation establishing a cap on carbon emissions failed in the last Congress.
“I’d much rather see Congress itself address greenhouse gases than have the EPA do it,” Ralph Izzo, chief executive officer of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PEG), owner of New Jersey’s largest utility, said yesterday in an interview. “My fear is Congress doesn’t address the issue and then the courts step in and make our life even crazier.”
Won’t Go Away
“We shouldn’t conclude that global warming as an issue and greenhouse gases as an issue is simply going to go away if we pretend it doesn’t exist,” he said.
The fight over greenhouse-gas regulations is intertwined with an effort by Republicans to slash the EPA’s budget.
Republicans in the House have proposed cutting EPA funding about 30 percent, or $3 billion, almost double a budget reduction of $1.3 billion proposed last month by Obama.
“If Congress slashed EPA’s funding, concentrations of harmful pollution would increase from current levels,” Jackson told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday. “The result would be more asthma attacks, more missed school and work days, more heart attacks, more cancer cases, more premature deaths.”
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