US House leaders seek to roll back greenhouse gas rules

19 June 2012 22:48  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--House committee leaders on Tuesday charged that Obama administration efforts to regulate greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions constitute overreach and a violation of congressional intent that will undermine US manufacturing and raise electricity costs.

In a hearing on various ongoing efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict US emissions of greenhouse gases, Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (Republican-Michigan) said those policies are “acting as one more roadblock to economic recovery and job growth”.

“It’s a sad irony that the very job creating activities this struggling economy screams out for – things like building a new factory or expanding an existing one, or boosting electric generating capacity to meet demand – are precisely what is being targeted by EPA with these burdensome GHG permit requirements,” Upton said.

Upton was referring to a series of EPA regulations issued since 2009 that limit emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from automobiles and trucks and, more recently, impose strict limits on releases of GHGs by power plants, chemical facilities and other manufacturing industries.

Congressman Ed Whitfield (Republican-Kentucky), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said EPA’s greenhouse gases restrictions “are a backdoor cap and tax policy that Congress has already rejected”.

The US House passed a cap-and-trade climate bill in late 2009 on a one-vote majority when the chamber was under Democrat control.  But a companion bill died in the Senate the following year, and in the 2010 congressional elections Republicans won a majority in the House.

“Any action regarding climate change should rest with Congress and not unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at EPA,” said Whifield.

The US chemicals sector, along with a broad spectrum of other manufacturers, opposed congressional efforts to pass a cap-and-trade GHG emissions control bill, arguing that such a law would force still more US manufacturers overseas.

“At a time of chronically high unemployment, the last thing job creating industries need is more red tape,” said Whitfield.

“But that is precisely what EPA is imposing on the economy with its greenhouse gas regulations,” he said.

Since 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, he said, “EPA has already published ... more than 1,800 pages of final rules relating to greenhouse gases, and more than 700 pages of proposed rules are pending”, he added.

Whitfield noted that EPA was invited to attend the hearing of his subcommittee, but the agency did not send a representative.

Upton said he hoped testimony heard at Tuesday’s hearing would help build support for a House-approved bill, HR-910, that would roll-back the bulk of EPA’s greenhouse gases initiatives.

That bill would essentially revoke EPA’s authority to regulate GHG, rescind those GHG-related actions already taken, and bar the agency from regulating carbon-dioxide in the future.

The measure passed in the House in April 255 to 172 – largely in a party-line vote but with help from 19 Democrats – and is now pending in the Senate.

Advocates of the legislation say it is not likely to pass in the Democrat-majority Senate but that it might have a better chance if the upcoming November US general elections should shift the balance of power in the White House and Senate.

By: Joe Kamalick
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