US political, business pressure mounting against EPA on CO2

11 March 2010 18:44  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US energy and chemical sector leaders on Thursday joined a broad coalition of businesses and state governors in urging Congress to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

The Natural Gas Supply Association joined The Fertilizer Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce in calling on the US Senate to approve a resolution that would bar the EPA from proceeding with its announced plans to regulate US emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases.

In addition, a bipartisan group of 20 state governors and nearly 100 other business and trade groups - including the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) - have issued appeals to senators to block the EPA action.

Sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican-Alaska), Senate Joint Resolution 26 (SJR-26) would bar EPA from regulating greenhouse gases (GHG) by declaring the agency’s 7 December “endangerment finding” to be without force or effect.

In that December ruling, EPA held that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases cause global warming and thereby threaten Americans’ health and the environment, making GHG subject to the agency’s regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Formally known as a disapproval resolution, Murkowski’s measure is co-sponsored by 37 other Republican and three Democrat senators.

In their letter to congressional leaders, the 20 bipartisan state governors said they are “gravely concerned ... about the very real potential for economic harm” that would flow from EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.

The governors warned that such EPA action “will be costly to consumers and could be devastating to the economy and jobs”.

The EPA approach, they added, “would increase the cost of electricity and gasoline, manufactured products and ultimately [would] harm the competitiveness of the US economy”.

Along with petitions submitted by various business groups and trade associations, the governors urge undecided senators to support the Murkowski resolution, arguing that US climate policies “are best developed by elected representatives at the state and national levels, not by a single federal agency”.

Murkowski’s resolution seeking to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases is one of seven similar blocking bills - five of them sponsored by Democrats - pending in the Senate and House. There are also several lawsuits and formal petitions pending against the EPA on the matter.

Hill sources say that Murkowski’s resolution is expected to come up for a full Senate floor vote after the Easter recess, 29 March through 9 April.

As a procedural matter, even if the Murkowski resolution is approved by both the Senate and House, President Barack Obama could veto it. 

However, the measure’s backers say the president would be hard pressed to oppose such a strongly demonstrated bipartisan congressional opposition to the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases.

Obama has frequently stated that he would prefer that Congress pass climate legislation rather than see EPA regulation on that issue.

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