House GOP to Prevent EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

January 11, 2011

Having taken control of the House of Representatives only days ago, the new Republican majority has threatened to gut funding of the Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to prevent federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions that drive potentially catastrophic climate change. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, has stated he will seek to scale back the EPA’s regulatory powers.

A statement released by Simpson’s office said the Congressman has his “eyes set on EPA. . . . The EPA is the scariest agency in the federal government, an agency run amok.” Simpson’s statement further added: “Its bloated budget has allowed it to drastically expand its regulatory authority in a way that is hurting our economy and pushing an unwelcomed government further into the lives of Idahoans. As Chairman of this subcommittee, I look forward to bringing some common sense to the EPA and some certainty for our nation’s job creators.”

Simpson has supported past efforts to derail the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions regulations. Last week Simpson also co-sponsored legislation that would strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Funding restrictions in appropriations bills are an additional tactic GOP lawmakers are exploring to prevent implementation of the EPA’s new greenhouse gas rules.  Two EPA regulations became effective at the start of 2011: new vehicles must follow tighter CAFE standards; and power plants, refineries, and large factories will require permits for their emissions when they expand or build new facilities.  The EPA also provided a timeline for additional greenhouse gas regulations.  The agency is scheduled to propose “performance standards” for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011, and will finalize standards for those sectors in May 2012 and November 2012, respectively.

Senate Democrats have vowed to block House Republicans’ attempts to derail the EPA’s regulatory authority.  Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) emphasized the benefits of EPA’s limits on emissions from power plants, oil refineries, chemical facilities and other “stationary sources,” arguing that the public should understand the negative consequences of undoing rules written to protect public health. “We’re in great danger, and it fails to reach the public’s interest because there’s a tendency to look at things on a much more short-term basis,” as opposed to the long-term footprint of a changing climate, Lautenberg added.