Obama, Congress fight over funding for greenhouse gas regulations

14 February 2011 21:01  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director Lisa Jackson said on Monday that the Obama administration would oppose plans by House Republicans to deny funding for the agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases (GHG).

In a conference call with reporters to discuss the EPA’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2012, Jackson was asked about the Republican-sponsored House spending bill for the current 2011 fiscal year that would chop the agency’s funding levels across the board and especially for any enforcement of greenhouse gases restrictions on industry.

“It would be premature to speculate on what’s in the continuing resolution,” Jackson said, “but we will oppose any limits on our ability to check carbon pollution, an authority that was affirmed by the Supreme Court.”

The continuing resolution - a short-term budget extension - put forward by the Republican majority in the House would cut the EPA’s spending authority for the rest of this year by $3bn (€2.2bn).

Included in that $3bn reduction was the elimination of some $107m that the EPA would need to continue enforcing its regulation of and limits to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases by so-called stationary sources, meaning power plants, refineries, petrochemical facilities and other factories.

The continuing resolution issued by the House Appropriations Committee would deny funding for the “EPA’s ability to prohibit or restrict the emission of carbon dioxide or methane from any stationary source”.

The agency’s regulations governing greenhouse gas emissions by power plants and factories took effect on 2 January this year and are just beginning to be felt by industry.

If the Appropriations Committee’s continuing resolution were to be approved by Congress as a whole, the measure’s limits on EPA spending for climate change matters would effectively shut down the agency’s enforcement of GHG limitations for the rest of this year.

“We want to work with House Republicans, but we don’t want to undermine our ability to protect public health and the environment,” Jackson said.

But House Republicans’ move to shut down the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases for the rest of the current fiscal year 2011, which expires on 30 September, indicates that the agency’s budget request for its greenhouse gases programme for next year was threatened as well.

In releasing its fiscal year 2012 budget proposal on Monday, the White House said it was seeking an additional $46m “for regulatory efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and implement GHG reporting requirements”.

Congressman Mike Simpson (Republican-Idaho), chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on environmental issues, said that the continuing resolution’s elimination of funding for the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases would give Congress time to clarify what role, if any, the agency should have in GHG management.

Separate legislation pending in the House would revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources.

The White House had earlier indicated that President Barack Obama would veto such a bill.

($1 = €0.74)

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