Climate rules bill flags 'EPA bureaucrats'

March 3, 2011 at 4:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- A bill ending U.S. agency regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions puts lawmakers in charge of climate-change policy, "not EPA bureaucrats," a GOP senator said.

The bill, to be introduced in both houses of Congress Thursday, would permanently revoke the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's authority, under the U.S. Clean Air Act, to regulate presumed climate-altering gases emitted from buildings such as factories and power plants.

It would leave intact an agreement among automakers and federal and state governments to cut vehicle-tailpipe emissions through 2017.

The bill -- dubbed the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 and to be introduced by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. -- comes after House Republicans passed a spending bill to cut EPA financing by $3 billion, or 30 percent, more than twice the $1.3 billion U.S. President Barack Obama proposed cutting last month.

Inhofe is the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Upton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Whitfield chairs the panel's Energy subcommittee.

The lawmakers said EPA greenhouse-gas regulations raise energy costs, drive manufacturers offshore, cost jobs and strangle the economic recovery.

"This bill puts Congress in charge of deciding our nation's climate-change policy, not EPA bureaucrats," Inhofe said Wednesday.

Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said they would likely support the bill.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said gutting the Clean Air Act will only make environmental problems worse.

"The Republicans have a lot of power, but they can't amend the laws of nature," he said. "This proposal threatens public health and energy security, and it undermines our economic recovery by creating regulatory uncertainty."

An alternative proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., would delay EPA regulation of stationary sources of greenhouse gases for two years.

The White House has said Obama would veto any bill that throttles the agency.

EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan told The New York Times the Republican efforts "would halt EPA's commonsense steps under the Clean Air Act to protect Americans from harmful air pollution that, until now, has not been subject to any pollution standards."

He said cleaning up factories and power plants would encourage investment in clean-energy alternatives and improve U.S. companies' competitiveness.

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