March 10 (Bloomberg) -- A Republican-led House panel approved a measure today that would block U.S. Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse-gas rules and reject the agency’s finding that carbon-dioxide emissions endanger the public.
The House Subcommittee on Energy and Power approved the legislation, which will be sent to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee, by voice vote. A similar bill in the Senate hasn’t been taken up yet.
President Barack Obama’s EPA is under fire from Republicans and some Democrats who say the rules will hurt the economy and do nothing to help the environment. The agency began regulating emissions blamed for climate change in January after Congress failed to pass cap-and-trade legislation, in which companies would buy and sell a shrinking supply of pollution rights.
“EPA’s regulations are a back-door attempt by unelected bureaucrats to implement the highly unpopular cap-and-trade legislation that was rejected last year,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican and sponsor of the bill, said before today’s vote.
The House legislation would bar EPA’s rules for industrial polluters under the Clean Air Act, while allowing a previous agreement the Obama administration reached with automakers to cut vehicle tailpipe emissions. The measure declares EPA’s 2009 finding, that greenhouse gases pose a health danger, without merit.
Democratic Representatives Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Dan Boren of Oklahoma support the measure.
The legislation is a “logical response to environmental overkill,” Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican and climate-change skeptic, said today during the hearing.
Representative Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, called the bill “extreme and excessive,” and Representative Henry Waxman of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the measure amounts to a denial of science.
“In short, it is anti-science,” Waxman said. “A know-nothing, do-nothing approach to the most challenging environmental problem of our time.”
Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, mocked the Republican lawmakers’ stance, questioning whether they would next try to reverse the physical laws of gravity or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
“With this bill, pollution levels will rise, oil imports will rise, temperatures will rise,” Markey said.
Representative Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the Energy and Power subcommittee, said that even if human-caused climate change is real, the EPA regulations would do nothing to stop it.
‘They Are Not’
The legislation “isn’t about whether the science shows global warming to be a problem, it’s about whether EPA’s regulations are sensible,” he said. “They are not.”
The EPA is regulating greenhouse gases in phases, starting with large emitters such as power plants and oil refineries. The rules that went into effect Jan. 2 require such polluters to apply for state permits if they build or expand operations. Existing facilities aren’t affected.
The decision about what types of controls may be needed to curb greenhouse gases is made on a case-by-case basis. The EPA, which has chosen not to regulate all the polluters covered by the federal Clean Air Act, has said it will propose a second phase of the greenhouse-gas rules in July.
Representative John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, today called the regulations a “job destroyer.”
Upton and Whitfield said yesterday that their attempt to block the greenhouse-gas rules is part of a legislative plan to stop rising gas prices. The EPA regulations may force oil refiners out of business, according to the lawmakers.
Representative Mike Doyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said it wasn’t responsible of Republican lawmakers to erroneously connect EPA’s rule with gas prices.
“Scaring the American people into supporting this bill is as irresponsible as it is untruthful,” he said today.
Doyle also said he’s willing to work on a compromise EPA measure that protects U.S. manufacturers.
Markey said legislation to stop EPA will not survive in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“This bill will live in the House while simultaneously being dead in the Senate,” Markey said today. “It will be the legislative Schrodinger’s cat killed by the quantum mechanics of the legislative process.”
The bill sponsored by Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who says the idea of man-made climate change is a hoax, so far has one Democratic co-sponsor, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
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