"Today, we took important action to safeguard jobs, the coal industry, and the entire economy as we move toward clean coal technology," Rockefeller said in a release. "This legislation will issue a two-year suspension on EPA regulation of greenhouse gases from stationary sources, giving Congress the time it needs to address an issue as complicated and expansive as our energy future."
Rockefeller's bill is one of several recent congressional efforts challenging EPA's authority to address climate change under the Clean Air Act. President Barack Obama and his top aides have said they would prefer Congress to set mandatory nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions, but the EPA is proceeding with regulatory plans should legislation not pass this year, The Washington Post reported.
A 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision gave the EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, Rockefeller's office said. In December 2009, EPA published its final rule in the Federal Register, stating the administrator found "greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare."
Rockefeller, who represents a coal-rich state in the Senate, said he recently sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that challenged EPA's potential regulation of greenhouse gases and Jackson "showed some willingness to move the agency's timetable for regulation to the end of 2010."
"This is a positive change and good progress, but I am concerned it may not be enough time," Rockefeller said. "We must set this delay in stone and give Congress enough time to consider a comprehensive energy bill to develop the clean-coal technologies we need."
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