Republicans launch bill to axe EPA carbon rules

WASHINGTON Thu Mar 3, 2011 8:21pm EST

The Valero St. Charles oil refinery is seen during a tour of the refinery in Norco, Louisiana in this August 15, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Valero St. Charles oil refinery is seen during a tour of the refinery in Norco, Louisiana in this August 15, 2008 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in both chambers of Congress introduced bills on Thursday that would permanently stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating emissions blamed for warming the planet.

President Barack Obama would veto a bill that blocks the agency from tackling climate change, administration officials have said. Obama has pledged to the world the United States will cut greenhouse gases to about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Representative Fred Upton, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the bill, called the Energy Tax Prevention Act, in his chamber.

"The EPA is pursuing a dramatic shift in our nation's energy and environmental policy that would send shock waves through our economy," said Ed Whitfield, the chair of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, a co-sponsor of the measure.

Senator James Inhofe, a climate skeptic who is writing a book on global warming called "The Hoax," introduced a version of the legislation in the upper chamber.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases under federal law. The EPA then declared the emissions endanger public health, which paved the way for its regulation of gases from smokestacks and vehicles, which began in January.

The legislation, draft copies of which Upton and Inhofe released early this month, will likely first go to a vote in the Republican-controlled House. If it passes, Republicans hope it will gain momentum in the Senate and pick up Democrats from industrial states who face tough elections next year.

Some Democrats may find it hard to vote against a bill that aims to stop regulations some businesses say will shut factories and hurt jobs.

Senator Joe Manchin from coal-rich West Virginia, who ran a television campaign ad last year in which he shot a copy of a climate bill with a rifle, signed on to the Senate bill.

Democrats Collin Peterson and Dan Boren signed onto the House bill.

But many other Democrats reacted strongly against the measure. "It exempts the nation's largest polluters from regulation at the expense of public health and energy security," said Representative Henry Waxman, a co-sponsor of a climate bill that passed in the House in 2009.

EPA GIVES INVESTMENT CERTAINTY

Analysts have said the legislation could face a tough battle because a permanent blockage of EPA regulations is too harsh to get the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate.

Analysts have said there is a better chance for passage of a bill pushed by Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, which would delay EPA from taking action for two years.

But some big power companies, such as New Jersey-based NRG Energy Inc, have said they want the EPA to continue regulating as it would give them more certainty in investing in future power plants.

The EPA in January began requiring big industries to hold permits for emitting greenhouse gases, the first step in regulating the pollution. The agency plans to propose performance standards on power plants in July and oil refiners in December that would limit their emissions.

Environmentalists decried the introduction of the legislation. "These two bills are yet more Dirty Air Acts intended to give the nation's biggest polluters a way out of limits to their carbon dioxide pollution that's likely to exacerbate asthma and lung diseases by worsening smog, and increase deadly heat waves and extreme weather conditions," said Earthjustice legislative representative Sarah Saylor.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio, Gary Hill)

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Comments (3)
DrJJJJ wrote:
Lower the national freeway speed limit 10% and you’ll reduce carbon emissions significantly, for next to nothin, do it overnight, it’s proven, saves lives, reduces oil consumption and it’s fair!! Vehicle emissions spike above 60 FYI! You have to be intellectually honest about change however! Wait until you get the bill on all this green energy favortism/subsidize-you’ll faint! Oregon just announce a 20% increase! Please turn out your lights when you leave the state!

Mar 04, 2011 12:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
kc10man wrote:
Who is to say that a cleaner, more efficient economy would not be a healthier and stronger economy?

GOP = Big business.

Don’t tread on me you republican pukes.

Mar 04, 2011 7:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Witsend wrote:
It’s unfortunate that climate scientists are fixated on CO2 emissions because action on global warming it too easily deferred. It would be a better strategy to focus on two other, well-established, incontrovertible and more urgent threats:

1. ocean acidification

2. tropospheric ozone, which is toxic to people, causing cancer, emphysema, asthma, and aggravates allergies, diabetes, heart disease, and is even linked to autism – all epidemics! and even more dangerous, ground-level ozone is poisonous to vegetation. It is as though we have forced upon our trees have had a decades-long smoking habit and now they are dying at a rapidly accelerating rate.

Since life in the sea and vegetation on land produce the oxygen we need to breathe, it might be better for the EPA and the climate activists to remind voters that we are humans are going to face famine and extinction if we continue to burn fuel. Focussing on CO2 is a long-term strategy that has spectacularly failed.

We should ration gasoline and electricity for only the most essential purposes, and transfer on an emergency basis to clean sources of energy.

http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/ has photos of damaged foliage and links to scientific research.

Mar 07, 2011 7:48am EST  --  Report as abuse
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