Congressional Republicans set to strip EPA of greenhouse rule

20 December 2010 19:23  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Congressional Republican leaders likely will propose legislation in 2011 to completely strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions by US industry, sources said on Monday.

Robert Dillon, spokesman for the Republican minority on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said that Republican focus now would be to deny the EPA's authority to regulate industrial emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) rather than seek a temporary suspension of that power for a couple of years.

Senator John Rockefeller (Democrat-West Virginia) announced late on Friday that his bill to suspend the EPA's regulation of industrial emissions of greenhouse gases had lost Republican support and would not come to a vote in the few days remaining for the current 111th Congress.

Rockefeller had sought a two-year suspension of EPA’s plans - which take effect on 3 January - to impose limits on GHG emissions by so-called stationary sources such as refineries, power plants and petrochemical facilities.

But in the wake of the November elections in which Republicans won control of the House of Representatives and strengthened their number in the Senate, the party’s strategists are no longer interested in a short-term and temporary suspension of the EPA’s plans.

Dillon said that Rockefeller’s suspension bill did not fail in this lame duck session of Congress because it lost Republican support.

“Republican support for reining in EPA remains as strong as ever,” he said. “There is no lack of support among Republicans, but we don’t control the floor in the Senate. That is between Senator Rockefeller and Senator Reid.”

Dillon was referring to Senator Harry Reid (Democrat-Nevada), who as majority leader controls what bills can be advanced to a floor vote in the Senate and which bills would not be advanced.

He said that in light of the election results and coming Republican majority in the House, interest in a temporary approach to blocking the EPA’s plans has waned.

“The Republican preference now is for a definitive resolution and that is to strip EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases emissions by stationary sources,” Dillon said.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, earlier this year nearly won Senate passage of her “disapproval resolution”, a bill that would have denied EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant.

Dillon said that Murkowski remains committed to reining in the EPA but that she is not sure what form new action might take when the 112th Congress convenes in January.

“We will likely see the House move first on this,” he said, noting that incoming Republican leaders in the House have already vowed to rein in the EPA on greenhouse gas and other regulatory plans.

He said that congressional interest in a temporary suspension of EPA’s role in greenhouse gases regulation was based on the assumption that Congress in time would pass some sort of cap-and-trade mandate that would replace the EPA rules.

“But given what happened in the last election and what is going to be happening in the next Congress, cap-and-trade is not a reality,” he said. “The focus now is on a permanent solution, denying EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases.”

The US refining and chemicals sectors along with a broad coalition of other manufacturing and energy interests have long opposed the EPA's plans to regulate greenhouse gases emissions by industry, arguing that the agency's plans would trigger plant closures, job losses and major energy price increases.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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