US House members join Senate against EPA on climate

26 February 2010 20:31  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--A bipartisan group of US House representatives has joined Senate members in seeking to overturn plans by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gases, officials said on Friday.

Will Chapman, a spokesman for Representative Ike Skelton (Democrat-Missouri), said the congressman has three other Democrats and one Republican joining him to sponsor a “disapproval resolution” that would bar the EPA from moving forward with greenhouse gas regulation.

Skelton has introduced House joint resolution 76 (HJR-76), stating that Congress disapproves the “endangerment finding” issued by the EPA in December and declares that it “shall have no force or effect”.

The language of Skelton’s resolution is the same as Senate joint resolution 26 (SJR-26) introduced earlier by Senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican-Alaska). At least 41 senators support Murkowski’s resolution, including three Democrats.

Chapman said Skelton is working to round up more House members to either cosponsor his disapproval resolution or to commit to voting for it.

In the endangerment finding issued on 7 December last year, EPA said that under authority of a 2007 US Supreme Court ruling and the Clean Air Act it has found that human-generated emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases have caused global warming and threaten Americans’ health and the environment. 

Consequently, the EPA said, it has authority to issue regulations to limit and reduce US emissions of those gases.

However, said Skelton, “When Congress passed the Clean Air Act, it never gave EPA the explicit authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for the purpose of stopping global climate change”.

He said the responsibility and authority for setting US policy on climate change matters belongs to Congress, not unelected agency officials.

EPA’s plans to regulate greenhouse gases are generally opposed by the US chemicals industry and the general manufacturing sector on grounds they will drive energy costs higher without impacting global climate.

Saying he disagreed with both the agency and the 2007 Supreme Court ruling, Skelton said that EPA regulation of greenhouse gases would impose major costs on farmers, business, utilities and consumers.

Cosponsors of Skelton’s disapproval resolution include Democrats Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Travis Childers of Mississippi and Charlie Wilson of Ohio along with Republican Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri.

In the Senate, Murkowski welcomed the action by Skelton and his cosponsors.

“The introduction of this House disapproval resolution sends a clear message: there is bipartisan and bicameral agreement that command-and-control regulations from EPA are not the right way to reduce the emissions blamed for climate change,” she said.

Murkowski’s disapproval resolution is likely to come up for a vote first, perhaps by mid-March.

Murkowski would need 51 votes in the Senate for approval, and Skelton would need 218 approval votes in the House to pass the measure there.

Even if both chambers pass the disapproval resolution, President Barack Obama is expected to veto it.  But sponsors say the two bills demonstrate growing congressional opposition to EPA action on greenhouse gases regulation.

The EPA was not immediately available for comment on the Skelton resolution.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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