Republicans Go After EPA Climate Change RulesJanuary 11, 2011 - by Donny Shaw
Maybe the biggest failure of the Democrats over the past few years has been that they didn’t pass climate change legislation, even when they had simultaneous control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. Luckily for them, they have a backup plan with the Environmental Protection Agency. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA can issue regulations for air pollutants that they determine “endanger public health and welfare.” On January 2nd, the first round of EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions went into effect using this authority.
In the first week of the new Congress, House Republicans introduced three separate bills to stop the EPA from enforcing climate change rules. Here’s a quick overview.
- H.97 – To amend the Clean Air Act to provide that greenhouse gases are not subject to the Act, and for other purposes. (intro’d by Rep. Marsha Blackburn [R, TN-7])
The most drastic of the batch, this bill would subvert the scientific findings of the EPA by amending U.S. Code to declare that greenhouse gases are not pollutants. The bill text reads, "The term ‘air pollutant’ shall not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarb ons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride.” These are, of course, the greenhouse gases that the EPA has already determined to pose a threat to public health. The bill has 64 co-sponsors.
- H.153 – To prohibit funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to be used to implement or enforce a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases, and for other purposes. (intro’d by Rep. Ted Poe [R, TX-2])
This one would let the EPA go forward with regulating greenhouses gases, but it would block them from setting up a marketplace for pollution credits that would encourage utility companies to reduce their emissions in the name of profit. It’s mainly a political move. It goes after cap-and-trade because it’s the policy the Right demonized the most over the past few years when the congressional Democrats were trying to pass a climate change bill. Poe’s bill wouldn’t stop the EPA from putting caps on emissions; it would only block utilities’ from having a way to trade emissions credits to soften the financial impacts of the caps. The bill has 19 co-sponsors.
- H.199 – To suspend, during the 2-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, any Environmental Protection Agency action under the Clean Air Act with respect to carbon dioxide or methane pursuant to certain proceedings, other than with respect to motor vehicle emissions, and for other purposes. (intro’d by Rep. Shelley Capito [R, WV-2])
This one is probably the most likely to find the support from moderate Democrats that it would need to pass the Senate if it is brought up for a vote. It’s identical to a bill introduced last year by Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D, WV] that had 6 Democratic co-sponsors. Supporters of this approach argue that the 2-year delay would give Congress time to find a better solution for reducing emissions, though with a split Congress and a Democratic President it’s not likely that the 112th Congress could reach a compromise. This bill has 3 co-sponsors.
It’s pretty certain that President Obama would veto any of these if they made it through both chambers of Congress, and the bills’ supporters definitely would’t have the 2/3rds majorities they would need to override a veto. These bills are like trial balloons for if the Republicans gain more control of the legislative process in 2013, and, so far, the one with the most support is the Blackburn bill that goes after the scientific foundation of climate change as a phenomenon caused by man-made pollutants.